EXCLUSIVE: A conversation with Empire RB Trevor Kennedy Jul 21, 2016 1:27:58 GMT -8
Post by David on Jul 21, 2016 1:27:58 GMT -8
RB Trevor Kennedy (image courtesy of Indoor Football League / GoIFL.com)
As the Spokane Empire get ready to hit the road to take on the 5-time defending Sioux Falls Storm, Sports Coast to Coast is honored to have an interview with Empire RB Trevor Kennedy, the 2016 IFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and First-Team All IFL.
A graduate of Mercyhurst University, Kennedy was a tryout in the Empire's mini-camp, Kennedy was converted from his natural position at wide receiver to running back by head coach Adam Shackleford. He was a critical contributor to the success of the Empire in their inaugural season in the IFL, finishing 1st in the Intense Conference with a 12-4 record. On the season, he rushed for 720 rushing yards and a league high 27 rushing touchdowns, the most in the IFL since Green Bay's LaRon Council rushed for 32 touchdowns in 2012.
I had a chance to chat with Trevor briefly before the Intense Conference Championship. He was kind enough to agree to an e-mail interview.
David Hein: First of all, congratulations once again on winning IFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as well as being named First Team All-IFL. Tell us a little bit how you feel about receiving RotY honors?
Trevor Kennedy: Receiving this award is a great honor, but for me individual awards do not mean much. Although I was awarded this honor it was a team effort. I would not have even had the chance to win Rookie of the Year with out our great Offensive Line and Wide Receivers doing such a great job blocking, up front and down the field.
David: Talk a little bit about yourself and your football career before you arrived in Spokane. You mentioned that you played multiple positions in high school?
Kennedy: I was born and raised in Akron, OH. I have been playing football since I was 7 years old. I went to Akron Firestone High School, where I played basketball, football. I was the Quaterback of our team and lead our team to a league title my senior year. I decided to attend Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA. Although I was brought in as a QB, the coached quickly noticed my athleticism and decided to move me to DB, RB, and finally by the end of my freshman year of college I ended up at Wide Receiver. My Junior year we won our first conference championship in team history, which for me came along with a lengthy list of awards, also putting me on the radar of the NFL. Going into my Senior year, I was named AP poll Pre-Season All American. I finished my Senior year as a AFCA 1st Team All American WR. The first all american to come from my college for athletics. I went undrafted free agent to the Tampa Bay Bucs, which ended in injury. So I went back to school to finish my degree and rehabilitate from my injury. Graduated college and signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but after also suffering an injury I was let go there as well.
Kennedy as a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (image courtesy of Stan Behal /Toronto Sun)
David: You came to Spokane as a wide receiver and Coach Shackleford saw the potential for you at running back. How difficult was the transition?
Kennedy: The transition to running back was kind of difficult, not so much the running the ball, but the learning how to take a hand off in the read zone offense that we run was what made it pretty tricky. Well that and the learning how to pass block Linebackers and Defensive ends. Still not sure I’m used to it. As I told Coach Shack back in Camp I was willing to do anything that helped our team. So I took upon myself to become the best RB that I could, and am just thankful to my coach for that chance.
David: When you were named the starting running back for the Empire, did you expect to make as big of a splash as you did?
Kennedy: If I were to tell you that I believed any of this would have happened at the beginning it would be a lie. It definitely caught me by surprise just as much as I believe it took the league by surprise. I just told coach that I would give it everything that I had, and I guess it has worked out pretty well for the both of us.
David: How do you feel you’ve grown as a player since coming to the IFL?
Kennedy: I feel I’ve grown a lot, not only as a professional, but also as a person. This league is very fast paced and took some getting used to which I believe would help me if I were to one day return to the outdoor game.
Offensive linemen Dave Lefotu (56) and Michael Boyefio (76) pave the way for Kennedy against the
Colorado Crush (image courtesy of Dan Pelle / Spokesman-Review)
David: You mentioned to me that you considered your offensive line (Michael Boyefio, Mike Trice, Dave Lefotu, Kyle Fischer, Brandon Haskin) the best line in the IFL. It’s hard to dispute that, considering you led the league with 27 rushing touchdowns. Talk a little bit about what they do that gave you the big opportunities you got this season.
Kennedy: My Offensive Line did such a great job of getting on and staying on there blocks, but also getting movement up front and making big holes for me to run through. They also did a great job of climbing to the second level and getting to the mike backer and DBs, basically all I had to do is run. They did all the hard work and heavy lifting.
David: From my observations this season, I get the sense of a family-vibe around this Empire team. I think this has been missing from the franchise over the last few years. How special is this team, and how have you and your teammates managed to gel with each other so successfully?
Kennedy: I think our team is really special and I think one of the things that helped us gel was facing adversity early, when losing to Billings and having to respond from that. Also just buying into what Coach Shack was telling us about having a chance to win it all in the beautiful city of Spokane. It wasn’t easy and we have our up and downs with each other but what family doesn't.
David: We discussed this a little on Sunday, but for many who might not know, you played wide receiver with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. If you had the opportunity to elevate to the CFL or NFL, would you go back to playing wide receiver or would you focus on running back, or even slotback?
Kennedy: I have no clue really, I’ll do whatever it is that the team would need from me and give my all at whatever position that may be.
David: You’ve become a fan favorite here in Spokane. What’s the support been like from the community?
Kennedy: The support from the community and our fans has been amazing. I’m so grateful that I got the chance to play for such an excited and passionate fan base. It made doing what I love that much more fun and exciting. I love the Spokane fans and community.
David: How tremendous of a feeling would it be for you and your teammates to win the United Bowl Championship?
Kennedy: Honestly, words couldn’t even describe the feeling. It would be quite amazing though, that I do know.
I'd like to thank Trevor once again for taking the time to answer my questions. I wish you the luck on your recovery from injury and hope to see you back on the field stronger than ever next season, whether it's in Spokane, the CFL, or even the NFL.