The Story of Jack Kennedy

Submitted by DGDestroys on January 20th, 2011 at 11:31 PM

I posted this in another thread but I guess many people haven't really heard about how hard this kid's fought for a place on this team. If the mods want to bump this down to the board, that'd be understandable, the story's not all that long. Anyway, Kennedy's name has come up quite a bit recently; and I completely agree that no one wants to see another Nick Sheridan season. I'm not arguing he should start. But people who make fun of him (and granted, they are few and far between) should know how hard he's worked before criticizing. Anyway, on with the story.


One of my cousins was good friends with Jack in high school. This is what they told me.

Anywho, as a junior in HS, Jack was the starting QB. He came back in his senior year and either there was a new coach..or something, and the coach didn't like him..or at least his ability, so he got benched ( says he was injured). Anyway, the slim shot Jack had at playing D1 ball seems to evaporate, right?

Well Jack enrolls as a freshman at UM, paying his own way, obviously. But hereally wants to join the football team. After enrolling as a freshman, he tries out, doesn't make the team. He doesn't give up. He knows he's been out of it for a while, and there's no way he's going to get on without practice. So, at night, after the team's gone back to their dorms/etc, and the field...yes, Michigan Stadium is empty, he hops the fence or whatever and sneaks onto the field. Every night. He uses practice equipment, footballs, etc, anything he can get his hands onto. For months and months, every day he snuck on and practiced in the dead of night.

Eventually, the cops caught him one night. He thought he was screwed, but instead, the cops set him up with practice stuff at Pioneer (I think my cousin said the Pioneer coach worked with him too) and when walk-on tryouts come around the next year, he goes for it. He leaves everything out on the field at the tryout, and makes the team.

He knows he'll never start, he knows he'll rarely play, he knows he'll probably never get on scholarship. But he loves Michigan football so much that none of it matters to him. He worked on all of that, so hard, just to suit up for the maize and blue on Saturdays. Now it's been about a year since my cousin told me about this, but I think I got all my facts straight.

You want a Michigan man, whatever the hell that means? There's your Michigan man.


Here's some add-ons. Their story adds some nice quotes from his parents after the DSU game from last year, but leaves out the Pioneer part.

My cousin told me he wasn't liked by the coaches..I guess he was just injured.

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

More or less what my cousin told me

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.

Worked out with Cavanaugh, Kovacs, and Baker

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.

Some more nice fluff on RR

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.

Anyway, I just wanted to share, so you could all appreciate the sacrifice this kid (these kids, really, a lot of walk-ons face similar obstacles) went through and the selflessness he's shown. 



January 20th, 2011 at 11:41 PM ^

Great post. I never knew his background until this; he now has a fan in me. It's easy to cheer for those that are given nothing but work their tails off to make something.


January 20th, 2011 at 11:42 PM ^

Real Nice fellow. I was able to meet Jack and his parents at the Eastern Michigan game from '09 and they told me that entire story. He hasn't done anything wrong in his one play as QB so far us. 


January 20th, 2011 at 11:48 PM ^

Every time I see someone say something nasty about any kid, no matter what their skill level is or what life has dealt them, (whether they play for Michigan or not), it ticks me off.

People of poor character should just shut the hell up if they can't be respectful.

We all have our issues.


January 20th, 2011 at 11:49 PM ^

Great story that makes you realize that this is a dream that most kids will never live out.  He worked so hard and even if he doesn't play another down for the Maize and Blue, he has fulfilled his dream.


January 21st, 2011 at 12:06 PM ^

why does rice play texas?

perhaps the more appropriate speech for this kid, even though that line, the best line of the speech, is usually clipped out when it gets played in america. (i didn't even know that line was in there until i saw it in commercials in europe.)


January 20th, 2011 at 11:56 PM ^

And don't forget his music career with the tune Lost Love.  I'm not skilled enough to link it but if you search Jack Kennedy on You Tube, you'll find it. 

Usually aaamichfan comes through for me with a link within the next few minutes.


January 20th, 2011 at 11:59 PM ^

i want dedication like this, and i believe this is the reason bo's teams had such success, because he preached dedication to the program. I look up to jack, and i hope all the players do too.


January 21st, 2011 at 12:13 AM ^

His contributions may never see the light of day as he might be the scoutnteam guy, but that role is of course important as well. Let's hope he gets a ring


January 21st, 2011 at 1:01 AM ^

I had a friend who did something similar (not at Michigan) but he didn't make the team.  He ended up playing D2, but it's so cool to hear of a player who has such a love for Michigan that he'd go through all that and work that hard just to even suit up.  I have gained a lot of respect for him.  Go Blue Jack!


January 21st, 2011 at 1:02 AM ^

you put in the will be rewarded. "Those Who Stay Will Be Champions." i give mad props to the kid...hope to see him do some work on the field at some position, whether thats at quarterback if someone goes down, or at a slot wide out, just something. Good job Jack...GO BLUE!!!!!


January 21st, 2011 at 1:29 PM ^

make good coaches.  Dedication, love of the game, discipline and openness to being taught and coached, holding the clipboard on the sideline (in Kennedy's case), and the humility that comes from not having everything handed to them...

Not that I'm suggesting they make the choice, since all those qualities can be useful whatever path they choose.  Expect to continue to see Kovacs on the field, hope to see Kennedy make at least some cameos, and glad they're with us regardless.


January 21st, 2011 at 2:00 AM ^

My girlfriend is a teacher at WLC so I've gone to alot of games, the coach has been at WLC for like 6 years. Jack was hurt during practice before the start of the season although it wasn't a serious injury he sat out a week or so and lost his job during that time. This is still a great story of hard work and perseverance.


January 21st, 2011 at 4:39 AM ^

I had no clue about who Jack Kennedy was when he came out for the dying seconds of the game against Delaware State. Now after this story (that is really well told) I appreciate his perseverance and I agree completely that he is a true "Michigan Man" and he now has one more fan among the wolverine fanbase.

LSA Superstar

January 21st, 2011 at 7:13 AM ^

Jack Kennedy threw me my first and third pass during walk-on tryouts in 2008. The first pass travelled at approximately three hundred miles an hour and was an exceptional completion to Tacopants.

Awesome article and, evidently, awesome kid!


January 21st, 2011 at 7:52 AM ^

I had the pleasure of coaching Jack for a couple years in baseball. He's a great kid from a great family. He was always respectable with "yes sir." He was very quiet but a hell of leader through his play on the field. A great 1st baseman.


January 21st, 2011 at 7:55 AM ^

My two cents on JMFK:

I was back in Ann Arbor tailgating on Division just north of Hill St before one of the September games in 2009. This particular spot happens to have a lot of the team walking down the block between Central campus and the stadium in the hours before the game.

We're out by the street and I spotted an obvious player walking by judging by his warmup and bag, but I didn't recognize him. After shouting out to him what position he played and getting the response "Quarterback", I said back to him you must be Jack Kennedy. I don't think I've ever seen any athlete at any level as happy to be recognized as he was that day. (Though still not happy enough to accept our offer of beer...)

The end. Go Blue.


January 21st, 2011 at 9:25 AM ^

but from what I have seen of Kennedy in Spring Practice, I would feel much more comfortable with him playing qb than those two. Obviously Denard and Devin are amazing talents that he won't be able to beat out, but if we have injuries, I would expect Kennedy to go in and do as well or better than McGloin did this year.


January 21st, 2011 at 10:12 AM ^

I saw Jack Kennedy for the first (and only?) time during the 2009 spring game.  This was, of course, the game that would go on to populate the "Weapon of Choice" video for Tate Forcier.  However, as my buddy and I sat in the warm sun of the north endzone, we were both impressed by the play of QB #18.  He looked fast...quick.  He was making good decisions.  I had to look in my program to find out who he was.  Jack Kennedy...walk-on.  Hmm.  Looks pretty good for a walk-on, I thought.

Of course, they were playing our defense, but still.

I didn't know of Jack Kennedy until that day, and I've definitely never understood the people who make fun of him (as an earlier poster noted).  Granted, I've never seen him play in a game situation against top competition, but the kid can play ball.


January 21st, 2011 at 9:27 AM ^

These are the people that make great coaches.  They know the hard work and effort it takes, they know the playbook inside and out.  They know these things because they're a little short on talent compared to others.  Their only shot, at making the team, is hard work and superior knowledge.  Fortunately, for them, it sometimes pays off.  Jason Garrett (currently the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys) comes to mind.  Good for you, Jack.  Nicely done.


January 21st, 2011 at 10:52 AM ^

At the spring game of 2009 is when I first saw Jack. No one knew who he was. But he came in and looked good. He drove the team down the field and made some really nice throws. I thought he played better that Tate.



January 21st, 2011 at 11:15 AM ^

1st thought of him upon seeing him in the spring game was that the kid could really be a nice serviceable back up, more power to him and his dreams. 

Great story DG.


January 21st, 2011 at 11:20 AM ^

I bet thousands of kids across the country tried doing what Jack did and failed, but all the stars lined up.  His work ethic and maybe Rich Rod’s willingness to put walk-ons on the roster because he was a walk-on himself got Kennedy on the roster.


January 21st, 2011 at 2:26 PM ^

In all seriousness, thanks for the story. I'm sure there is a similar story for almost all walk-on and scout team players and we should appreciate their hard work and dedication to the team, not for glory, but for love of the school and the sport.


January 21st, 2011 at 4:47 PM ^

This is a story I would never have heard if it weren't for MGoBlog and I am thankful for you taking the time.  I'm always amazed at the amount of time these kids put in to play football in college.  I had a guy tell me once that he played D-I ball but transferred to a different school where he could not play and, without football, he found that he had an exorbitant amount of free time.  These athletes make me feel like I was a slacker, especially the ones that get better grades than I got.  Very impressive.