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Kinoshita maintains desire to play football abroad

Veteran receiver says Notre Dame Japan Bowl provided him him with a valuable measuring stick for his conditioning level

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Noriaki Kinoshita avoided making any definitive comments on his future after the Notre Dame Japan Bowl last Saturday. But he appears to see himself playing abroad this fall.

In Japan’s 19-3 loss to the Notre Dame alumni squad, the wide receiver didn’t look sharp and lacked his true instincts as he was playing in a real competition for the first time in almost two years.

“I don’t want to make an excuse with that,” Kinoshita said, referring to his long layoff since the last game with the Amsterdam Admirals in the now-defunct NFL Europa. “We’d been practicing for the last month. We did everything we could. I couldn’t perform how I wanted to because of nobody but me.”

Kinoshita, who finished the game with just three receptions for 26 yards, had a reason to be vexed more than anybody on the national team after the contest.

The 26-year-old was drafted by the New York Sentinels of the United Football League, the newly established pro football circuit which kicks off its inaugural season in October.

Ted Cottrell, a former defensive coordinator for NFL teams including the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills, will be the head coach.

Kinoshita did not clarify that he is definitely going to play in the new league this upcoming season. Perhaps he is making the NFL his top priority and waiting for another call from a club in the league.

But one thing for sure is this: He will certainly look to play on a foreign soil at higher level once again.

“Nothing has been decided and I’d like to start anything after it’s decided,” said Kinoshita, who spent the 2008 NFL season with the Atlanta Falcons as an international practice squad player.

“But I always want to (play) abroad.”

He didn’t leave the field after the Notre Dame Japan Bowl with just humiliation from the crushing defeat, however.

In a sense, Kinoshita, who led Ritsumeikan University to three collegiate national championships in the Koshien Bowl and two national championships in the Rice Bowl, benefited from last weekend’s game because he was able to realize where he is on the gridiron right now.

“I got to know what kind of physical condition I am at, my moves and level through this game,” he said. “So it taught me how much I have to train myself.”

Kinoshita spelled out what he felt he needed to work on.

“I’ve got to strengthen my physical (condition). I don’t have stamina and can’t run as I used to, either.”