Kansas City, Mo. As a youngster in south-central Los Angeles, Charles Mincy used to walk to USC's campus and watch heroes Marcus Allen and Ronnie Lott practice with the much-beloved Trojan football team.
Mincy's infatuation with ``Student Body Left'' University soured, however, during his senior year at Dorsey High School.
"I grew up two blocks from the Coliseum and they didn't recruit me," Mincy, Kansas City's starting free safety, said earlier this week. "Beating SC was one of my biggest thrills, plus the Rose Bowl, of course."
Mincy, now 23, played for Pasadena City College two years, before signing with the University of Washington. He not only beat SC during his career, but also was named player of the game in the Rose Bowl his senior year after returning an interception for a 37-yard touchdown in a 46-34 win over Iowa.
"NOW I'M GLAD they didn't recruit me at SC," said Mincy, a 5-11, 187-pounder, who picked the Huskies over Tennessee.
"Going to Washington was good for me. I got out of L.A. It was totally different different weather and different people and attitudes. I really liked it there."
In two seasons as a Huskie cornerback, Mincy registered 68 tackles. He also had three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
He was a fifth-round pick of the Chiefs in the 1991 draft.
Mincy made the squad's 47-man roster, but injured his ankle and toe in camp and was placed on injured reserve on Aug. 30. Not needed on the field, he was kept on IR most of the season.
"It was like a red-shirt year," Mincy said. "I mainly lifted and tried to get stronger. I watched a lot of film."
UNEXPECTEDLY, the Chiefs released Charles Washington on Christmas Day and called Mincy for the playoffs. He had two tackles in a 10-6 playoff win against his hometown Raiders.
"There was no time to be nervous, it happened so fast," Mincy said. "I had no time to think about it. There was no big build-up. I just went out there and played."
He played well enough in the playoffs that the Chiefs weren't too concerned when veteran free safety Deron Cherry decided to retire.
Embracing a starting role, Mincy had three tackles and five assists in KC's 24-10 season-opening win over San Diego.
"I did all right, nothing spectacular," Mincy said. "There was nothing unusual or abnormal about it, but it was kind of exciting. I'm not scared or nervous about this, but there are a lot of things to learn."
At free safety, Mincy makes the calls on defense. He has to take on a leadership role, even with standouts like Kevin Ross and Albert Lewis joining him in the secondary.
"THAT'S WHAT the position calls for," he said. "They're used to it (leadership) with Deron here for so long. I feel I did OK getting the calls out. We were all on the same page. The off-season program helped me a lot. I was here learning the defense."
Now he's preparing for KC's home opener. The Chiefs will be heavily favored to win Sunday's noon contest against Seattle.
"This is the pros. Every week is a test," Mincy said. "It's not like college where you just run over somebody. Like last week, this is important because it's a division game. Starting with a win on the road helps a lot. It takes some of the pressure off."