JFK: Jimmy Freakin’ Kennedy

November 19, 2002
JFK: Jimmy Freakin’ Kennedy
by Keith Weiland

“Ask not what your team can do for you. Ask what you can do for your team.”

Okay, so that’s not exactly how the quote reads, and no, Jimmy Kennedy never said that – some other guy named Kennedy did – but darn it, he sure could have said it. The leader of the resurgent Nittany Lions has done what it takes to help return his school to the national stage after a two-year hiatus, all while playing the thankless role of interior defensive lineman.

Well, maybe not entirely thankless. In the process, Kennedy has established himself as a top caliber pick in next April’s draft, someone who should be very high on the Texans’ wish list. So high, in fact, that Kennedy should be their best defensive prospect on the board at this point.

No, I haven’t forgotten Miami’s William Joseph, another terrific defensive lineman who should get drafted early as well. Joseph looks good, but it’s Kennedy’s talents — and super size — that are best suited for the Texans’ 3-4 defensive scheme.

Kennedy can grind OL beef when double-teamed to hold his ground, and he can plow upfield when it’s time to bum rush the show. At 6’5″ and 318 pounds, Kennedy is an opposition’s public enemy number one.

Don’t be fooled by the impressive statistics of teammate Michael Haynes, including 13.5 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss, thinking that Kennedy may not even be the best lineman on the team. Haynes has legit NFL potential, but he doesn’t pile up those kind of numbers without Kennedy playing alongside of him.

And Kennedy’s stats this season aren’t exactly chop liver, either. The “Grizzly Bear” has 5 sacks and 15 TFL’s himself, including one of each in Saturday’s 58-25 stomping of Indiana.

Just think what kind of stats Texan defenders would amass if Kennedy plugged the middle of the Texans line…

Kennedy’s success this season wasn’t a given. After a somewhat disappointing year in 2001, he shed 30 pounds during offseason workouts to the point where teammates had a hard time believing their eyes when they saw him. Next came a slow start to the 2002 season before exploding for 4 sacks and 5 TFL’s in the win over Wisconsin, then another 5 TFL’s in the loss to Ohio State.

And Kennedy isn’t done dropping the pounds. He is so determined to have scouts view him as a top three pick that, between his next game against Michigan State and the bowl game, he plans on getting his weight under 300 pounds, maybe as low as 290. That would mean that Kennedy will have dropped over a hundred pounds since arriving at Happy Valley. Don’t be surprised then in a couple months when Kennedy posts a sub-5.00 forty time.

Kennedy’s strong work ethic, combined with an extra year of maturity, make him a natural team leader. With his degree already in one hand, a fiancée in the other, and a 23rd birthday passing last Friday, Kennedy is ready for the NFL.

The Texans should have a shot at drafting Kennedy when they find themselves on the clock next April. Will they be ready to take Kennedy?

Tune in, drop out… Now that the NFL regular season has passed the halfway point, preseason’s sweet dreams have turned to midseason’s night sweats. What that means is you’re not as much of a draft geek if you only started your first mock draft this week.

Charles Rogers   Rogers  

Michigan State @ Penn State, 2:30pm, ESPN GamePlan – I know, I know… local television honchos won’t be showing this game in the Houston market, but that doesn’t mean Texan fans shouldn’t be paying attention to this game. I’ve been bringing up these two schools nearly every week because each one has perhaps the top player available in the 2003 draft on either side of the ball (Kennedy and the Spartans’ WR Charles Rogers). The Texans could be looking to draft either one of these guys, and here they are, bundled into one game. You should at least catch the game highlights to see Penn State’s new all-time single season rushing leader, Larry Johnson. For the third time this season, Johnson set the school’s single game rushing mark with 327 yards against the Hoosiers on Saturday. Paging the Downtown Athletic Club…

Texas Tech @ Oklahoma, 6:00pm, TBS – The Big 12’s best gunslinger, Kliff Kingsbury, is riding into Norman, giving the toasty fellas in the Sooner secondary a shot at redemption after Texas A&M freshman Reggie McNeal burned them for four touchdowns two weeks ago.

Keith Weiland wants all of you to thank him for making it through this entire article without a single reference to another Kennedy, that being the former MTV VJ. Well, at least until now that is. Sorry. Never mind.