Sabers’ Kennedy signs with UNH
Thursday, February 14, 2013
AMHERST – Jake Kennedy sat in a sunlit classroom full of people, his smile as bright as the rays shining through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The crowd, so big not everyone could fit into the room, descended on Souhegan High School on Wednesday to watch the senior sign his national letter of intent to play football at the University of New Hampshire.
But first, Kennedy had a few words for everyone in the room.
“It’s a great accomplishment, and I couldn’t have done it without everyone in this room,” Kennedy said before signing the letter. “For everyone in the room to show support for me, it means a lot to me.”
Moments later, Kennedy signed his name on the letter to the applause of coaches, classmates, teachers and his parents, Jeanne and Mike Kennedy. Most of those in attendance gave Kennedy a hug or a handshake before leaving, and when they were gone, reality started to sink in.
“A lot different than what I thought I was going to feel,” Kennedy said. “I feel huge relief. It’s been leading up to this basically since the beginning of the summer my junior year, all the way to this point. It was fun, it was a good experience. It’s good to be done with.”
Kennedy is one of 11 members of UNH’s 2013 recruiting class, joining fellow New Hampshire players Ricky Holt (Portsmouth) and Will McInerny (Bedford). A two-way lineman at Souhegan, Kennedy expects to play on offense after redshirting the 2013 season.
“Jake is a big, strong, powerful offensive line prospect for us,” UNH coach Sean McDonnell said in a statement released by the school. “He will add depth to our interior offensive line position.”
While Kennedy felt relief at the end of the recruiting process, former Souhegan coach Mike Beliveau, who led the Sabers during Kennedy’s four years, was excited for the future.
“All the hard work over the years, and the dedication to training, really just being an outstanding player and coachable at all levels, it all just came together for Jake,” Beliveau said. “Couple that with a kid who has excellent size for a high school kid and great intellect for the game.
“I love (the UNH) program. They’re a perennial power in the (Colonial Athletic Association). Without a doubt, it’s a top conference in the FCS. (McDonnell) is an outstanding head coach who brings passion and energy every single day to campus.”
It’s the second time Beliveau has sent a player to UNH, and Kennedy is the third Souhegan player to go to either a FBS or FCS school under Beliveau. In 2006, running back Sean Jellison signed with UNH, and lineman Rich Lapham went to Boston College.
Kennedy, who also plays basketball at Souhegan, expects to get a full workout program from the Wildcats closer to the end of the school year.
Whatever the coaching staff asks him to do, he plans on doing.
“They’ve made a commitment to me, I’m going to make a commitment to them,” Kennedy said. “I’m not rushing to be there. I want to enjoy the rest of high school and my friends. But I can’t wait to get there. It’s going to be fun.”