Snapshot: Darryl Kennedy

Darryl Kennedy played only two years of major college football and never really found a position. And after settling at fullback, he carried only 8 times as a Syracuse senior for 30 yards.<br><br> He's not much of a pass-catcher, nor is he much of a blocker. Really, there's only one reason Kennedy was signed by the Steelers after this past draft.

"I'm a wedge-buster," said Kennedy, a 6-0, 230-pounder.

Special teams coach Kevin Spencer suggested the Steelers sign Kennedy, who won Syracuse's Special Teams Outstanding Performer Award. Spencer probably saw tape of the Toledo game, when Kennedy busted the wedge and then blew up return man Lance Moore at the 11-yard line.

"It was in the Carrier Dome and it set off sparks for the Orangemen," Kennedy said.

Set off sparks?

"Yeah, it echoed through the dome," he said. "I came down and went through the wedge and, boom, right on the return man. He flew back like five yards and the place lit up. It was in the first quarter and after that we scored and we kept on scoring.

"It set off a spark. That was the best hit I had in college football."

The school newspaper, The Daily Orange, described it this way: "As the sound of the hit still echoed, Moore fell backward, helpless like scissors versus rock."

The hit was generally acknowledged as the play which ignited the 34-7 win. Kennedy had several more big hits throughout the season. His challenge now is to make the Steelers as a fullback in order to find his niche on special teams.

"I see these NFL wedges are a little bit bigger than the college wedges," he said. "We went over it today. We looked at film and we've got some big guys back there. They look like defensive linemen and offensive linemen back there, but I like that. It's a challenge for me. I like to break that wedge."

Kennedy was a highly recruited option quarterback out of Plainfield (N.J.) High School, where he led the team to an 11-1 record by scoring 22 touchdowns. He rushed for over 5,000 yards and scored 60 touchdowns in a prep career that ended with his jersey being retired.

He was recruited by Pitt and Penn State, among others, but went to Nassau Community College in Long Island because of poor grades.

Kennedy played quarterback at Nassau and in 2001 was second in the nation in scoring among non-kickers with 126 points. He gained weight and went to Syracuse as a fullback, was moved to safety, then to quarterback and back to fullback. That's his current assignment with the Steelers, and you'll find this father of two in the locker room between Jerome Bettis and Brian St. Pierre.

"Ever since you were little you always wanted to play NFL football," says the affable Kennedy, "and then when you see Jerome Bettis or Joey Porter on TV and then in the locker room and it's just like, uh, wow, but they're just regular people now. We go out to eat. They show us around town, introduce us. Charlie Batch had us over for a cookout. I'm having a real good time up here learning the plays and practicing.

"Jerome's a real down-to-earth guy. He's just a funny guy. He's cool to be with and he knows a lot of stuff, so I just follow in his footsteps. If he tells me to do something, I do it."

Kennedy thought he was going to end up with Baltimore or either of the New York teams, but was happy when Pittsburgh made an offer.

"It's a good location," he said. "My son (D.J.) is six and my daughter is four and they live in New Jersey with my mom, so I'm not too far away."

Is D.J. more excited than Darryl?

"I don't know, but he's excited," Darryl said. "I was on the phone the other day and he wanted to talk to Bettis so bad. I told him that I couldn't now and then he said he just wanted an autograph, so I'll get it today."

May as well get one for yourself.

"I think I'll wait on that," Kennedy said.

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