An All-Southern Conference defensive back as a senior in 1976, Pinkney set the ECU record for interception return yardage with 197. Pinkney intercepted a team-high six passes during the '76 campaign, one of which included a 98-yard return against Richmond. He also led the Pirates in interceptions as a freshman in 1973 with three. As a kick-off return specialist, Pinkney averaged 23.1 yards per return, which ranks as the ninth-highest return average in school history. After concluding his collegiate career, Pinkney was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round of the 1977 NFL Draft. He played five years professionally.