Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Over the past three and a half years, FaceTime has been a well-used app by Kabion Ento.
“But,” he said, “it’s not the same as being there physically.”
Certainly, Ento would rather be near his daughter, A’Kyre, in his hometown of Pine Bluff, Ark., but as he continues to shine in the classroom and on the football field with the Colorado Buffaloes, he believes the sacrifice he’s making will pay off in the end.
“While I’m here, I try to focus on the reason why I’m here and I am here for her and everything I do is for her,” said Ento, a senior receiver with the Buffs. “It makes it easier when I think about what I do for her.”
At 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, Ento is a tall, athletic and talented receiver who could be playing football for several more years. But, getting to where he is now has not been easy.
Ento was a multi-sport star at Dollarway (Ark.) High School, earning all-state honors in football, basketball and track and field. In football, he was the defensive player of the year as a senior for the Southeast Arkansas region, but also caught 30 passes for 650 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Following high school, Ento went on to play at East Central (Miss.) Community College, but before he played a game for the Warriors, he became a father. A’Kyre was born on Aug. 11, 2014, when Ento was only 18.
“It’s something I had to figure out fast, being a man,” he said. “It makes you think differently. At 18-19, having to figure out if you do something wrong, it’s going to affect her. It did help me grow.”
A’Kyre has lived with her mother, while Ento has only seen her during breaks from school. He last saw her in person during the Christmas break, and has yet to be with A’Kyre on her birthday, given that it always comes during fall camp.
“That’s something that hits home the most,” he said. “Every day is a new memory, especially with a child because they continuously grow. I’m not there for that and I try to take advantage of that when I go home.”
When he’s not around A’Kyre, Ento has focused on football and academics. He earned his associates degree from ECCC — while also catching 59 passes for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns in two seasons — and enrolled at CU in January of 2016.
With the help of Katie Bason, CU’s director of football academics, Ento has remained on track academically in Boulder.
Throughout it all, Ento has kept A’Kyre at the front of his mind.
“When it comes to all of my decisions, a lot of them are based on her,” he said.
That includes a tough decision to redshirt last year.
Ento caught eight passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns for the Buffs in 2016 and then blew everybody away with his work ethic and play-making ability in the spring of 2017 and into fall camp.
However, with three senior receivers — Bryce Bobo, Shay Fields and Devin Ross — ahead of him, not to mention juniors Jay MacIntyre and Juwann Winfree, Ento probably wasn’t going to get much more of an opportunity to make plays in 2017 than he did in 2016.
The Buffs wanted Ento to redshirt last year, with an eye on playing a bigger role this coming season. Football-wise, it made perfect sense, but it also meant another year in Boulder and another year away from A’Kyre.
It was a tough decision, but Ento realized the benefits.
“You have to think bigger picture,” he said. “You look at how if you come back next year and you can possibly start, you can possibly get the ball more, give the (NFL) scouts a little bit more film. That’s when it’s all business. I just started thinking about my future and definitely her future.”
While he would have rather been playing, Ento said redshirting allowed him to work on his game in practice, while also focusing more academically.
“I’m going to still graduate, I’m going to still probably have that chance to go to the league, but now I may have a better chance,” he said. “It was the best decision to help my family out.”
Although he wasn’t playing, Ento said he continued to work hard throughout the 2017 season.
“Every day I just came to practice and worked, whatever coach told me to do, no matter if it was scout team,” he said. “I just went and did it. All you can really do is control your effort and attitude.”
Ento has put more muscle on his lean frame and has coaches eager to see what he can do in a more prominent role.
“Hopefully he’ll keep doing well and have an excellent senior year,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “I’m excited about Kabion.”
Of course, the whole idea behind redshirting last year was to get him into a bigger role this year, but Ento isn’t taking anything for granted. He looks around the room of receivers and still sees Winfree and MacIntyre, along with junior transfer Tony Brown, talented sophomores KD Nixon and Laviska Shenault and others.
“If you don’t come to work, they’ll leave you behind,” he said.
Based on Ento’s performance so far at CU, that’s not likely to happen. He’s got extra motivation to be one of the Buffs’ top receivers this year.