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Posted on Sat, Oct 17, 2009 : 6 p.m.

With 25 seconds left in U-M football rout, Kennedy scores personal victory

By James Dickson

The six-yard quarterback scramble - the final offensive play of the Michigan football team's 63-6 victory against Delaware State - probably didn't look like much to the average Michigan fan, many of whom had already departed the Big House due to the lopsided score.

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.


Jack Kennedy, University of Michigan fifth-string quarterback, practices before Saturday's game as his parents watch from the stands.

James Dickson |

A redshirt freshman, Kennedy was forced to sit out his senior year of high school at Walled Lake Central after suffering a back injury.

While the injury took Jack off the radars of most schools, his grades qualified him for admission as a freshman in the Class of 2012, which came to campus last fall. He tried to rekindle the old magic as a walk-on, but didn't make the cut.

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. 

Jack's parents have been to every home game this season. 

"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. 

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. 

James David Dickson reports on human interest stories for He can be reached at, or



Mon, Oct 19, 2009 : 6:59 p.m.

You know, this Rich Rod thing might have legs...This is the kind of stuff that coaches use to make men of boys. Amazing how, when left to concentrate on his job, things fall in place. My WVU bud is just beside himself when good stuff goes on. GO BLUE!!!!!!! KICK SOME PSU BUTT THIS WEEKEND!

Tony Dearing

Sun, Oct 18, 2009 : 8:49 a.m.

A comment was removed because it was off-topic.


Sun, Oct 18, 2009 : 7:47 a.m.

It was great to see all those different players out there. Very honorable. But D.S. shouldn't have been on the schedule.


Sun, Oct 18, 2009 : 2:53 a.m.

Coach Rod, you did that player and his parents proud. Go Blue!


Sat, Oct 17, 2009 : 9:07 p.m.

Good story. Jack is not a bad QB. He looked decent in the spring game and has some wheels.

Guinea Pig in a Tophat

Sat, Oct 17, 2009 : 8:51 p.m.

Great story, I'm happy for Kennedy and his parents!


Sat, Oct 17, 2009 : 8:02 p.m.

Good for Jack! Sounds like a great kid. Way to stick with it! Good for Rich Rod, rewarding his perseverence! This is why Michigan are the Leaders and Best! Go Blue!