Grad transfer OT Kennedy lands at Miami on signing day, speaks on what led him to the U

Stefan Adams

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#1
This is the article version of Tommy Kennedy's podcast interview. If you'd like to hear the full audio version, take a listen *here*.


Grad transfer offensive tackle Tommy Kennedy has had a long road to get to this point. With no FBS offers out of high school in 2015, Kennedy ended up signing with Butler, a smaller FCS program in Indiana more known for their outstanding hoops team than anything gridiron related. But, after proving his worth on a smaller-scale and earning second team all-conference honors as a junior last year, Kennedy is ready to take the next step up: Kennedy announced Wednesday during the signing day festivities that he will spend his final year of eligibility at Miami for the 2019 season.

“I’m really fortunate to be in the position I’m in and really glad I decided to go with the University of Miami. I couldn’t be happier,” Kennedy said. “I told the coaches on Tuesday beforehand, then kind of made it public on Wednesday. I wanted to do a little Signing Day reveal, but they were all exited as hell when they found out I committed. It felt great for me too.”

It’s no secret that the Canes have struggled on the offensive line the past few seasons. That’s why the UM staff was so gung-ho on bringing in a guy like Kennedy for next year, someone that is already physically mature and experienced that can make an instant impact in the right conditions. Even though the depth chart holes at Miami were attractive to someone that only has one season of eligibility remaining, Kennedy says that wasn’t the only reason he signed with UM.

“I did my research, I know the depth chart situation. That played into my decision making, but that’s not the only reason. I mean, it’s Miami,” Kennedy said. “Honestly, it really came down to I fell in love with the coaching staff. Coach (Stacy) Searels is a great coach, he’s been everywhere. He coached for coach (Nick) Saban at LSU, he was at Texas. And then it’s Miami. There’s so many great NFL players to come out of Miami: Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Greg Olsen, Jeremy Shockey, Bryant McKinnie. Just so many good guys and to be a part of that family is unbelievable.”

The Canes won out over schools like Oklahoma, Texas, FSU, and Auburn to land Kennedy’s pledge. In fact, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn wanted Kennedy so badly he tried to get in on the 6’5” 290 pound tackle at the very last minute, extending an offer and using his last few available hours before the dead period trying to get Kennedy to sign with the Tigers.

“It’s a funny, funny story actually. My girlfriend actually got in a car accident driving my car down to South Florida, so I flew to Atlanta to scoop her up in a rental car,” Kennedy said. “Then coach Malzahn called me and he had been trying to contact me for a while and said, ‘Hey, just drive over here.’ I think it was Sunday, after my OV to Miami. So I just drove to Auburn, spent like three hours there and left right before midnight just before the dead period, all last second. It was crazy.”

Apparently, it wasn’t enough to sway Kennedy off of Miami.

“Well, I had an offer from Oklahoma and they’re obviously in the Playoff,” Kennedy said. “I think Miami has the opportunity and the guys to go do that, I personally think that. That’s why I picked Miami, they’ve got some great guys down there, and hopefully I’ll help make us national championship contenders next year.”

With so many top-notch Power 5 offers for the senior grad transfer, it almost begs the question: How did Kennedy get passed up in high school?

“For me in high school, I really didn’t market myself that well. I wouldn’t say I was arrogant, but I expected coaches to come find me and come see me at school,” Kennedy said. “And come January, February I was like ‘Dang man, I don’t have any offers’. I liked Butler, I don’t mean it like that. But for this go around, I sent my tape to over 100 coaches. I think my highlight tape went from 400 to 4,000 views in 3 or 4 days.”

Kennedy is actually already living in South Florida, getting acclimated to the environment and training while he finishes up an online class to graduate at Butler. Afterwards, the Lake Forest High product will enroll early at Miami in time for spring ball to get situated with his new teammates and a higher level of competition.

“I’m currently in South Florida, in Boynton living with my grandpa. I’m training with Bomario, it’s like this workout place,” Kennedy said. “I’m just living with him and training, and then I’m finishing up school with this online class. I’ll finish the class before the semester starts at Miami and graduate, so I’ll be enrolled at Miami in January.

“That’s big-time for a grad transfer, to get comfortable with all the other guys. Especially on the offensive line, working together as a big group, getting chemistry with all the other guys on the O-Line. Quarterback cadence, stuff like that. So that’s big-time being there in the spring to put on some good weight in the off-season.”

So, just what are the Canes getting in a player like Kennedy?

“Obviously, I bring a lot of physicality to my game. It’s kind of my thing,” Kennedy said. “I always play with a chip on my shoulder. Just coming from a smaller school, I always have a lot to prove, and I have that to prove at Miami next year. There’s a lot of people doubting me and my abilities and I’m also just trying to get a shot at the NFL. That’s why I’m doing this and Miami’s the perfect fit for me to do that.”

Kennedy started every game at left tackle for the past two seasons at Butler and is preparing as if he will play the same position at Miami. After the departure of senior LT Tyree St. Louis, the UM coaches have mentioned to him they’d like to see him take over the role.

“The one thing about me, I’m a perfectionist. If I miss one block, if my man tackles my running back, I get pissed,” Kennedy said. “I think I gave up maybe one and a half sacks in my entire career at Butler…I’m comfortable playing anywhere on the line. I’m not dead set on left tackle. I just think my skillset is kind of there. I’m pretty athletic, I like pass blocking. I think there’s nothing more satisfying than it being a third and ten, some guy thinking he’s going to get home and just being able to lock a kid up. I think it’s fun.”

The jump up to Power 5 competition from an FCS school like Butler will always be an adjustment. Miami fans know the transition well, as CB Dee Delaney came to UM from FCS program the Citadel in 2017 and struggled out of the gate, before settling down later in the season. However, Kennedy feels that he’s already fared well against FBS competition and will have a jump on being prepared to make an impact at Miami by going through spring ball, something Delaney did not do.

“In my career at Butler, I’ve played against some good competition,” Kennedy said. “I played against NC State, Florida, and then I also had to block this cat from San Diego, who owns the record for career sacks at that school. So I’ve played good talent. Also, being able to get in early in January and get in a whole spring ball versus arguably the best defensive line in the ACC. It will be a little bit of an adjustment, but I think I’ll be prepared. Meeting those guys in spring ball, I think I’ll get adjusted and acclimated pretty quick I think.”

When asked what type of message he had to the Canes’ fans out there that have been following his recruitment, Kennedy is simply eager to prove he belongs at this level.

“I don’t expect to get handed anything, you don’t really get handed anything in life. I’m there to earn it,” Kennedy said. “Be ready for me in the 2019 season. I have a lot to prove, I got a big chip on my shoulder and I can’t wait to prove it to everyone. I know a lot of people are doubting me right now coming from Butler, but I love proving people wrong. That’s kind of my deal. I’ve been doing it my whole life and I’m going to continue to do it.”
 

jnw4563

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#3
Good work Stefan
 
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#6
Would love to see a film breakdown from someone who knows what they're talking about of his game against Florida.
 
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#8
What I like about the kid...he's betting on himself. He's making a big jump up. But he's been shopping himself since - at least - the end of October to play D1 ball. He wants it.

With that said, its a big jump in competition. He's got good feet and definitely has technique...but, this is big boy football and a different animal. I am curious what he gets his weight up to before the fall and how he matches resistance against UF. He'll be tested right away.
 
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#9
Love the pickup. Our tackles suck he is likely an upgrade from anything we got out there. He has 2 years of experience out there and that counts for something. He is working out at Bommarito which is likely better than anything Gus would be doing with out s&c. His signing was BIG TIME
 
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#10
I just hope this staff promotes competition on every single spot, especially on offense, no reason to set a starting 11 right now after this underwhelming year
 
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#11
Love the pickup. Our tackles suck he is likely an upgrade from anything we got out there. He has 2 years of experience out there and that counts for something. He is working out at Bommarito which is likely better than anything Gus would be doing with out s&c. His signing was BIG TIME
We are banking of three years of coaching by Butler OL Coach Kyle Conner (and Colin Johnson in 2018) is enough to offset the trash coaching he'll get from Searles over the spring.
 

DTP

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#12
The fact that this kid could come in and play right away is huge. We need tackle help badly. Looks like we beat out a bunch of other top programs for his services too.
 
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#13
after that article, how do you get the impression he is a jag. sounded like a highly motivated kid thats ready to put in the work. sounds like you have a dark cloud forever over your head and see everything from the negative
 
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#14
after that article, how do you get the impression he is a jag. sounded like a highly motivated kid thats ready to put in the work. sounds like you have a dark cloud forever over your head and see everything from the negative
I love the image of the dude moving down to Boynton early and training in a retirement community to hopefully come in and make an instant impact. He'll eventually cite training with with some Korean War vet at named Seymour at 5am as being as important as Felder's strength program.
 

CANEMC

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#15
Seems like a good fill at a position of dire need. I'm really rooting for this kid. And honestly, we need more attitudes like this on the squad.
 
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#16
I love the image of the dude moving down to Boynton early and training in a retirement community to hopefully come in and make an instant impact. He'll eventually cite training with with some Korean War vet at named Seymour at 5am as being as important as Felder's strength program.

This is funny as hell.

But Bommarito trains guys for the Nfl. probably the best down in south florida. Our guys go to him to get ready for the combine/camp etc
 
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#17
I said it many times and I'll say it again no oline could survive with only 1 starting caliber tackle so a vet with good experience is needed badly
 

Unsider

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#18
Yep, the negative Nelly’s are definitely driving away the talent from the U. Wait, what?
 

jsy

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#19
the best part of this pick up is that he has had 4 years of coaching at butler so hopefully searels cant screw him up
instead just plug and play
 
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