DURHAM – The 2013 football season was nothing like Jake Kennedy had experienced before.
The former Souhegan High School standout not only went through the first year of his collegiate career with the University of New Hampshire, he did so from a spot he hadn’t been too familiar with in a long time – the sideline.
A football player since his early elementary school days, Kennedy was always a key part of the teams he’d played for, but he was redshirted his first year with the Wildcats, meaning he kept a year of eligibility while watching and learning.
“Coming in here, I learned more in that one year than I probably did in my entire career playing football,” Kennedy said. “That was awesome and I hope to learn this year as much as I did last year, keep things moving.
“It feels nice coming in the second time around. I’ve got a better feel for how things work and shed some light on the younger guys to let them know. It’s definitely nice to know the flow of things and what drills to do and how they work.”
Listed on the roster as an offensive lineman, Kennedy has been working at two positions since the start of spring practices. When the team went through its early-season practices, he was working at one of the guard positions on the line, but as training camp has gotten underway, he’s been used more at center.
Both spots have been a bit of an adjustment from the tackle position he played in high school.
“It’s definitely an adjustment, but I’m taking it in stride and getting my head in the playbook and buckling down,” he said. “It’s a lot easier the second time around when you have a base knowledge of what the plays are.
“The spring was a lot different because that’s where you get more live reps and things like that. You play with some guys you wouldn’t normally get to play with, some of the older guys, and they’re so good to the younger guys, giving you tips when you need them. We all just help each other and the transition was big, but I think I’m doing well with it.”
While Kennedy doesn’t anticipate getting to see the field much this year, he’s focused on continuing to make improvements so that day can come soon. And at the same time, he’s mindful of helping the guys who are out there get better.
“I’m just doing the little things every day to get myself better,” Kennedy said. “The coaches know. We always say to do your job, and if you do your job, things will fall into place. I’m focused on the things I need to do to make my teammates better, and hopefully, things will fall into place.”
Everything fell into place for the Wildcats last season, as they overcame a slow start to finish the year by winning nine of 11 games. That included a trip to the FCS semifinals for the first time in program history, and Kennedy enjoyed every minute he got to be a part of it.
“It was very exciting and as soon as I got here (last year), I knew I picked the right place,” he said. “Whether it was watching the Villanova game and even when I was at home watching the Southeastern Louisiana game on my computer, I was like, man, I can’t wait until it’s my turn. Right now, and last year, I’m just focused on doing the things to make the guys who are out there right now better.”