Alright alright, so maybe he's not THAT kinda Kennedy. But with the freak injury he suffered, maybe people should start to wonder…
Anyway, my twitter feed (and Scout) shut down today when the news broke that Kennedy had suffered a knee injury during a one on one drill towards the end of practice. And when I say shut down, I mean that the sky literally could not have been falling any faster. And honestly? It was justified. Kennedy's impact (or expected impact I guess) wasn't just going to be on the field. He was the gem of this recruiting class, the rare local super-talent who chose to stay home rather than looking elsewhere on the mainland (where he could have had his pick of D1 programs.) His success (and by that same token, the football program's ability to help him have success) would be a critical stepping stone towards helping to convince more and more kids here to stay home. Kennedy having a solid freshman year would allow the recruiters to put forward a pitch that could go something like: "What's better than staying home and playing all your home games in front of your closest friends and family? What's better than making a difference in your community? Don't you want to be a part of something huge? Look at Kennedy. He trusted us and he was rewarded. Let us reward you too."
Stepping back though, I guess if something WERE going to happen to him, this was probably the best possible time for it. He still has a redshirt year available to him because he hasn't yet participated in any games. He's also been involved in enough practices that the coaches have a fairly good idea of what his strengths and weaknesses are as a player. And, perhaps most importantly, sitting out a year would allow him to get stronger. In football, unlike basketball for example, there is a gargantuan difference between the physical strength of an 18 year old versus even a 19 year old (a gap that grows exponentially at 20 and then 21.) This is important for Kennedy particularly because of the position that he plays, one where physical strength is so important to your success on the field. Sure technique matters, but look at Jadeveon Clowney. He was only 240 when he began his career at South Carolina, and though he was one of the most heralded recruits in that program's history (and decently productive as a true freshman starter), he didn't really even begin to scratch the surface of his potential until he bulked up over the last year (he's now at least 275 as a true sophomore. No one knows his true weight for sure.) The point here is that perhaps Kennedy sitting out isn't the worst thing in the world for him. Fortunately for UH, their D-Line is perhaps the biggest position of strength on the team (at least as far as knowable quantities go.) Beau Yap, Saui and Tavita are all very experienced and were each going to be relied upon heavily to play pivotal roles in guiding the defense. Any contribution from Kennedy, current injury aside, would have been a luxury (rather than a necessity.) I know that you never, ever ,want to lose a player of his caliber at any point if you have the choice. Just trying to find a silver lining here I guess.
Steven Tsai reported about an hour ago, that Tulimasealii's injury was diagnosed as a "partial MCL tear" and that he's expected to miss around a month. Football analysis aside, I really do feel terrible for the kid about this. The first group of people I met at my first practice of the fall was his family, who all drove down together in a truck and were happily rocking their "#90? t-shirts. I wasn't aware of his number at the time, so when I inquired who they were supporting, his mom pointed at him happily as he was doing drills.
"I'm Kennedy's mom" she told me. "Nice to meet you".
"Nice to meet you too. My name is Harrison."
"What do you do? Do you cover the team"
"Yes Ma'am, yes I do."
"Well you be nice to him okay? You just watch. He's going to be something special. Really really special."
Yes Mrs. Tulimasealii, I couldnt agree more. Get well soon Kennedy. We're all rooting and praying for you.