Monday, February 08, 2010

Hall of Fame nominee Kennedy "wouldn't be where he is today" without Randy Shannon

Former Miami Hurricanes lineman Cortez Kennedy up for induction into Hall of Fame

By Jorge Milian

February 5, 2010

By the end of his junior season at Miami, the only Hall of Fame that Cortez Kennedy seemed destined to make was for eating.

At one point, Kennedy's weight had hit 370 pounds.

"We called him, 'Three-play Tez,' " said UM coach Randy Shannon. "He was done after three plays."

With Shannon's help, Kennedy dropped the weight and turned into one of the best football players UM has produced.

One of 17 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Kennedy will learn today if he will be inducted. Rickey Jackson, a Pahokee native and former New Orleans linebacker, and Boca Raton resident Cris Carter are among the group of finalists that also includes Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith.

"You look at the names, just to be on the ballot is amazing," said Kennedy, an eight-time Pro Bowler who played 11 seasons for the Seahawks and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992. "I'm excited."

Whether Kennedy will be selected for induction this year is up to the Hall of Fame's 44-person voting committee. That Kennedy is even under consideration surely didn't seem possible when he showed up at UM as a junior-college transfer in 1988. He played just two seasons for UM and was so out of shape his first year that he saw only limited action.

"When he was fresh, nobody could block him," said Shannon. "But he couldn't keep it up. Cortez was a big guy who liked to eat."

The summer before Kennedy's senior season, Shannon moved in with the defensive tackle. For a month, Shannon ate every meal with Kennedy, often selecting what they consumed. At night, Shannon would sleep by the refrigerator to keep Kennedy from snacking.

"If he left the house, I would go with him," said Shannon, a UM linebacker from 1985-88. "I didn't let him out of my sight, unless he was with his girlfriend."

Shannon also put Kennedy on a running program. Five days a week, Kennedy draped himself in a plastic garbage bag and ran up and down hills for an hour at a park.

By the start of his senior season, Kennedy was down to 295 pounds.

"I thought it was insane, but look where it got me," Kennedy said. "I tell everybody now, if it weren't for Randy Shannon I wouldn't be where I am today."

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