Willie Kennedy, a 6-foot, 180-pound prospect from Ashbrook High School in Gastonia, N.C., committed to the Buffs earlier this month, sort of unexpectedly.
Kennedy's high school held a ceremony for athletes who planned to announce their college choices and Kennedy seized the moment to announce his decision. Kennedy visited CU in September for the Buffs' game against Eastern Washington. It was the first time Kennedy had been on an airplane.
"I liked the area, and I really liked the coaches," Kennedy said. "I liked the players, and I like how they ran things down there."
Ashbrook High School coach Mike Briggs said it was obvious Kennedy enjoyed his trip when he returned.
"All he could talk about was the mountains and the Buffalo," Briggs said.
Briggs said Kennedy is so aggressive on the football field it can be a detriment at times. He said CU coaches will not be disappointed in what they get from Kennedy.
"He is a coach pleaser," Briggs said. "He's on every specialty team that we have. He wants to please the coaches. He just does a great job.
"Sometimes he wants to play downhill too fast, his motor is going too quick. Sometimes they may have a little delay pattern that may get him sometimes because he's up into taking on the tackles and things when he doesn't need to be. He's a hitter."
Kennedy said he remains about 20 points shy on the sliding scale from being academically qualified to attend CU, but he said he should be qualified by the end of this semester and he will continue to improve his academic standing in the spring.
Kennedy said he wants to study computer science at CU and he generally regards himself as a decent student.
Briggs said Kennedy is a borderline prospect in terms of his academic qualifications but he is within reach of being qualified and needs to finish strong the rest of his senior year.
"I just see him as one who needs to finish what he started," Briggs said.
Kennedy also has scholarship offers from Marshall, Western Carolina, North Carolina State, Boise State and Missouri. He said he probably won't take any more recruiting trips.
Kennedy said Colorado coaches have never been to his school or his home for a visit. He said the primary person responsible for his recruitment to CU is offensive graduate assistant Joe Bever, who has been with CU since 2006. Bever was a walk-on quarterback at Clemson in 2002 and later worked for CU coach Dan Hawkins at Boise State.
Kennedy said he was first offered a scholarship by CU coaches last spring when he was running track at Ashbrook. He said he competes in the 100, 200, 400 and 800-meter runs. On the football field, Kennedy said he believes his speed and aggressiveness are his strengths and he needs to work on his coverage skills.
He has played Rover for his high school team. It's more of a linebacker position than the strong safety spot CU coaches see him playing at the college level.