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By: CUBuffs.com
New CU receivers coach Bobby Kennedy is a Boulder High School graduate.
Brooks: Kennedy Returns, Brings Rich Resources
Release: January 06, 2011
By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor
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BOULDER - Bobby Kennedy has come home, but that doesn't mean getting here was an easy decision. And if your next question is how long will he stay, there's no simple answer. He's an assistant football coach with aspirations - which is all you need to know about him putting down deep roots, be it at home or anywhere else.

Kennedy recently joined Jon Embree's Colorado football staff, signing on to coach the receivers. Oh, yes, he will recruit, most likely in talent-rich Texas but really anywhere Embree assigns him.

It was Kennedy's recruiting resume and abilities that stir-fried Buffs fans when word of Embree's interest in him began wafting through cyberspace several weeks ago. The last of Kennedy's eight campus stops (that total includes early graduate assistant positions at two schools) was at Texas, where he coached for seven fairly fruitful seasons and was the assistant recruiting coordinator.

There are a couple of ways to look at Texas recruiting, with both being enviable. First, the state spits out top-tier prospects like Kellogg's spits out cornflakes. Second, Texas can't sign them all, which current Longhorns coach Mack Brown and his predecessors all have lamented.

So if you're a recruiter at Texas, the prospect pool you're dealing with contains very few (if any) throwbacks. You're scrutinizing the larger fish in the largest pond, mostly keepers, and you have to cull from those. It's probably tougher than it sounds.

Kennedy isn't going to find that at CU, at least not initially. Perhaps unconsciously at times during the run-up to national signing day (Feb. 2), he might find himself comparing the Longhorns' wish-list to the Buffs' and marveling at the difference. But he's confident he can find, sign and develop players.

"I've always believed this: if you're a good recruiter and you work at it, you can recruit anywhere," he said. "When I went to Texas, I'd never recruited Texas before. What recruiting is is building relationships. Recruiting is listening to people and kids about what they're really looking for, what they want, and also selling your program in terms of a way that presents opportunity to those young men - not only on the football field but also academically."

When I spoke with him earlier this week and asked if recruiting areas had been assigned, he said, "No . . . I was going to try and wrestle Hawaii away from Brian (Cabral), but I think he's got that locked up."

But, seriously folks, Kennedy does indeed view his Texas connections as a huge asset. "I'm sure I'll be involved there . . . when you talk about recruiting areas, right now my most familiar area is Dallas. I have ties there," he said. "But I've recruited Los Angeles, parts of Florida and Colorado when I was at Wyoming. So I know there are areas out there if they need to me to go, I'm ready to roll.

"Colorado has a lot to sell, Boulder has a lot to sell. Also, going into the Pac-12 (CU and Utah enter this fall) . . . what an opportunity for kids to get in on the ground floor of that."

And that's what Kennedy believes he did by saying yes to Embree and so-long to Brown. Kennedy has known Embree for over 20 years, dating to their high school days (Embree at Cherry Creek, Kennedy at Boulder High). Embree wound up playing at CU, Kennedy at Northern Colorado, but they had mutual friends at both schools.

"Then when we both got into coaching, we just always stayed in touch and talked about what was going on with us - the different places we'd been, what was going on at Colorado," Kennedy said. "With him playing here and me growing up here, it's always been a place we aspired to get back to."

Plus, Kennedy still has family in Boulder. Yet when the call to come home was placed, he was a faced with a difficult decision.

"It was difficult from the standpoint of having a lot of friends and relationships that were built," he said. "Texas is a great place. Working for Coach Brown and (former offensive coordinator) Greg Davis, (former defensive coordinator) Will Muschamp - all the good guys on the staff. And DeLoss Dodds is an excellent athletic director.

"There are great places out there and Texas is definitely one of them. But the thing that makes great places is great people. That was the difficult thing about leaving Texas. Then you talk about your players - the relationships you have there. I recruited a bunch of those guys on that team . . .

"Change is never easy for anybody. And while there's a new excitement here, I'm sure the (CU) players are ready to meet who's in place. There's also guys who've been here that were recruited (by the old staff) and had built relationships here. So from that aspect, it's sometimes really tough on both ends."

When I asked Kennedy about immediate challenges, he quickly listed three: "Hit the ground running recruiting; get into the offense and start developing that, piecing things together when Eric (Bieniemy, offensive coordinator) installs it; call the guys on the current roster and make sure I introduce myself to them and let them know I'm excited about being at Colorado."

Embree and Kennedy have stayed in touch over the years, talking by telephone "three or four times a season" when Embree was an assistant at UCLA and when he moved into the NFL. As he did with other members of his staff, Embree shared a long-term vision about becoming a head coach and had a "ready list" of prospective assistants when CU reached out to him.

Kennedy is familiar with most of his new colleagues. He knew Cabral, now a Buffs fixture on four different CU staffs, and as a high school sophomore first met defensive coordinator Greg Brown at the Mile High Football Camp. By reputation, he knew offensive line coach Steve Marshall, tight ends/special teams coach J.D. Brookhart, defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo and defensive ends/outside linebackers coach Kanavis McGhee.

"It's exciting for me to kind of reconnect with people that I haven't seen in a while," Kennedy said. "But it's also such a great opportunity for me to get to coach with guys who have outstanding reputations, like Jon, Brian, Greg, Eric . . . to me that's exciting, because he's put together a great staff. I'm just ready to carry the water."

Bet on him doing more than that. Embree called Kennedy "a very good receivers coach. He's had a lot of success. He's had very good players, but he's also had to get those players to do that. He's done it at Washington, he's done it at Arizona, Wyoming . . . everywhere he's been."

Since word of his return began spreading, Kennedy has been contacted by close friends in Boulder - his former Boulder High coach Dave Ramsey among them - and other people he hadn't heard from in 20 years.

"It's exciting for me," he said. "Yeah, it is a homecoming. It's a place I've always aspired to coach at and it was my team growing up. It's exciting being at a place where you grew up wanting to be. For me, I don't know if sadness is the right word about leaving Texas, but there's also a great joy about coming to Colorado."

There was a delay in Embree hiring Kennedy because Kennedy was among the finalists for the head coaching position at Kent State. Kennedy, obviously, didn't get the job, but Embree knows more calls for Kennedy will come.

"I think he's an excellent coach," Embree said. "He's another guy who's going to be a head coach soon . . . he's a guy who's thought of very highly in the coaching profession. A number of schools wanted to hire him; they've tried to in the past, so I feel very fortunate that he's here."

In this case, the good vibes run both ways. Bobby Kennedy has come home - and the home folks have welcomed him.

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU

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