PORTSMOUTH — Vinnie Kennedy isn’t ready to give up on his dream.
A 2014 All-District Special Mention as an offensive tackle and a defensive end for Portsmouth, Kennedy drummed up significant interest from a number of Division II football programs during the offseason, including Tiffin, Walsh and Morehead State. However, the Trojan grad had his sights set higher.
This summer, Kennedy decided to eschew his Division II offers and join Marshall University as a preferred walk-on to the football program.
“It’s always been a school in my mind from the start. I like the program,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy originally entered the Portsmouth program as a running back, but a late growth spurt moved him to the trenches. However, Portsmouth football coach Aaron Duncan said that Kennedy’s experience at a skill position will serve him well at the next level.
“He grew up a little bit and grew out of being a skill position player for us, but his feet and athleticism still stayed,” Duncan said. “Marshall has noticed that his better days are ahead of him. He has a big body, but he always has great feet.”
Kennedy proved his athleticism in week 10 last season against Cincinnati Hughes. With the Trojans holding a sizeable second-half lead on Senior Night, Duncan (then the Portsmouth offensive coordinator) lined him up at tailback on a two-point conversion. Kennedy scored, and Portsmouth went on to win 40-26.
“His eyes lit up,” Duncan said. “I told him that this was his last chance to be a skill position player.”
In addition to his athleticism, Marshall coaches were also impressed with Kennedy’s high ceiling. His late growth spurt, coupled with the fact that he skipped a year of high school football, both point to the potential for Kennedy to get much bigger with the aid of the Thundering Herd’s weight training program.
While Duncan expects him to land on the offensive line, Kennedy said that Marshall coaches will try him out at multiple positions on both offense and defense. Though he will head to Huntington undecided on his major, Kennedy ultimately hopes to earn an education in either engineering or business.
After Marshall finished with a 13-1 record, a Top 25 finish and a Conference USA Championship in 2014, Kennedy will be joining what many believe to be one of the premier “Group of Five” football programs in the entire country.
“He gets the chance to see how he stacks up with Division I athletes,” Duncan said. “It’s a Top 20 program, they don’t give out ‘preferred walk-ons’ to just anybody.”
Though he knows that he’ll be playing against some of the best competition in the country, Kennedy is confident that he’ll become a staple on the Thundering Herd line.
“I think I can hold my ground there and earn a scholarship,” he said.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter