If you were to ask Adam Kennedy (Elk Grove, Calif./San Joaquin Delta College) to pick one word to describe his football career, he would say "battle." From his early days as a high school athlete through these final weeks of camp leading up to his senior season, the quarterback has always had to put up a fight to prove himself.
“I tore my hamstring in high school and missed two seasons, which caused me to go un-recruited and go the junior college route,” Kennedy said. “Then I got out here, and everyone knows things didn’t go as well as I would have liked.”
After a successful junior college career at San Joaquin Delta College, Kennedy came to Logan, joining a growing and progressing football program.
Matt Wells, now the offensive coordinator, came in as the quarterback coach the same season Kennedy arrived.
“I got to Logan about a week before he did, so we started working together right out of the gate,” Wells said. “His want-to and his thirst for knowledge have always been at a high level. From a coach’s standpoint, that’s the best kind of player to work with because he’s a really coachable kid. We’ve had a great relationship from the beginning, and it only continues to grow,” Wells said.
There isn’t an Aggie fan around who doesn’t know the story of the 2011 football season. With both Kennedy and then-freshman Chuckie Keeton battling for the starting spot, Kennedy was disappointed when things didn’t go his way.
Eventually though, in a Nov. 5 game at Hawai’i, Keeton went down with an injury, and Kennedy got the call. He went on to lead the Aggies on a five-game winning streak. It became the first winning season and bowl appearance for Utah State since 1997.
“Obviously, I was disappointed with how things turned out at first, but I hung in there and got my shot,” Kennedy said. “I helped the team win the games we needed to get to the bowl game.”
With an all-too-familiar fight for the starting quarterback spot happening this season, Kennedy is trying to keep his head up and stay positive. He said one of the biggest things that keeps him going is his teammates and the mentality of the locker room.
“You get so close to them being together eight, nine, 10 hours a day every day. You start with spring ball in January going all the way through. You’re only away from each other two months of the entire year,” Kennedy said. “You get so close to them that when you finally get your shot; you don’t want to let them down.”
As Kennedy learned last season, regardless of who is named the starter, you have to be ready at the drop of a hat. No matter who wins the starting quarterback job this season, Kennedy says he’ll be ready to help his team.
“Whether or not it’s the first game or the seventh game, I’ll be ready to go,” Kennedy said. “I’m just trying to carry over from last year, but at the same time, not stay content from last year. I’m trying to improve and find the areas that my game needs work in.”
With the constant battle for his position, Kennedy said one of the biggest lessons he has learned as a student-athlete is patience. These are the kind of experiences that he says will also help him get through frustrating experiences in the post-football world.
“Sometimes things don’t go your way, like last year for me, or even a missed pass or a run,” Kennedy said. “You learn to bounce back. You have to be ready to move on, forget about it and learn from it.”
As the Aggies prepare for what they hope will be another successful campaign, Kennedy looks back at memories and experiences from last year to propel him forward.
“My favorite memory, without a doubt was after the game against Nevada. Taking that final knee, looking up and seeing my parents and the crowd, and most importantly seeing my teammates was great. Everyone was jumping around, the coaches had huge smiles on their faces, taking that picture,” Kennedy said. “The best part was when we got into the locker room. The music came on and everyone was dancing. We knew we were going to a bowl game if we won. That locker room is something I won’t ever forget, and something I want to experience again this year.”
Last year, the team goal was to make it to a postseason game. This year the collective response is to win a postseason game.
“Last year, coming so close, it was just heartbreaking. We went on that magical run of five wins in a row, then losing that last game in the final seconds was just crushing,” Kennedy said. “We all want to win the WAC and then more importantly, win whatever bowl game we happen to be in.”
The season is here and the time is now for the Aggies to step up and build from the legacy they have started to create.
“There’s a lot of excitement in the air. Everyone feels good after what we accomplished at the end of last year,” Kennedy said. “Everyone is eager to get to the first game, and show fans what we can do.”
Following his senior season at Utah State, Kennedy is still unsure of what will be next.
“The coaches are giving me great feedback. I’ll see what happens at the next level, but I’m not counting on it,” Kennedy said. “I’ll have my degree in business administration. I’ll definitely move back to California and get into the working world.”
As a leader, a closer and a proven quarterback, Kennedy is proud of his time as a college athlete.
“Whatever happens, I stay positive,” Kennedy said. “The most important thing is to stay positive and be content with what happens. I’ll just wait to have my chance whether it’s the first game or the seventh game.”
Megan Allen works for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.