With 25 seconds left in U-M football rout, Kennedy scores personal victory
But for Jean and Jim Kennedy, parents of fifth-string quarterback Jack Kennedy, their son's "Rudy moment" was proof that perseverance pays off, that those who stay - even after being cut initially - can be champions.A redshirt freshman, Kennedy was forced to sit out his senior year of high school at Walled Lake Central after suffering a back injury.
From the time he was cut until the start of this year's spring tryouts, Kennedy would scale the construction fence outside of Michigan Stadium and work out at night under the construction lights. Jack's parents didn't understand why he asked them for four footballs for his 19th birthday. Only later did they learn that Jack was lining up and knocking down trash cans on the field of Michigan Stadium to improve his accuracy.
When he wasn't risking arrest for trespassing, he worked out with fellow walk-ons Jordan Kovacs, Matt Cavanaugh and Zac Baker in the hopes of making a better showing this year.
They did just that. Kovacs is a starter at safety, while Cavanaugh, also a safety, and Jack dress for the games as walk-ons. Baker, a senior wide receiver, also made the team.
"Jack's just thrilled to be a part of the program," Jean Kennedy said.Â
Jack's parents have been to every home game this season.Â
"This is a really great tradition," said Jim Kennedy, a former Michigan State University Spartan who has come to bleed Blue now that his son is a Wolverine. "Good coach, good kids. (Coach Rich Rodriguez) treats our boy well - all the boys. It's a great environment."
Win, lose or draw, the Kennedys meet Jack on the field once the team empties out from the locker room.
Unlike some of the five-star recruits who play for the Michigan football team, Jack understands that he may never play, his parents said. He's behind freshman dynamo Tate Forcier, running threat Denard Robinson, and backups Nick Sheridan and David Cone.
"We've got to get word to Coach Rodriguez that today is Jim 60th birthday," Jean joked before the game. Jim smiled as if to say: Don't get your hopes up.
If Jack was going to see the field it wouldn't be because of anyone's birthday, Jim said before the game. "This is the kind of program where, if you put in the work, you'll reap the rewards," he said.
Facing fourth down, and behind 63-6 with about 25 seconds left in the game, Delaware State punted to the Wolverines. The quarterback who trotted out onto the field to put the game on ice was none other than Jack Kennedy, who scooted for a six-yard scramble before time ran out.Â
Rodriguez could've easily just kept Cone in the game or had Jack take a knee. But he chose to put Jack in and called the quarterback keeper for him.
Jim got his birthday wish after all.Â