The Career of Austin Kennedy
By: Kaeden Walls
There are a few words you can use to describe Austin Kennedy’s quarterbacking career with the University of Windsor; improvising, exciting, intelligent, but none more so than electrifying. When he burst onto the scene in 2011, Kennedy, the sophomore from Vincent Massey Secondary School in Windsor, was an unproven, but confident kid. He had come into Windsor an OVFL champion, leading the Essex Ravens to a triple OT thriller and thus arriving with quite a lot buzz around him. “It confirmed the attitude I had about winning, it was an achievement of a long time goal and it was motivating, helped prop up the current attitudes I had at the time.” By no means a cocky kid, Kennedy still practiced with an air of confidence, believing in his abilities and using the tools he had to be ready.
His moment came in that great 2011 season against Wilfred Laurier, the incumbent starter, Sam Malian, went down with an injury and opened the door to Kennedy’s super stardom, Kennedy shone, finishing with 555 total yards and 5 touchdowns in the 1 point win. That season really showed the potential of Kennedy, as he led the team to a 5-3 record and a near-historic win over Western and a Yates Cup appearance for the Lancers. “We all knew that the program was going to turn around when Coach Joe got the job, we had a great group of guys and knew it was the start of something new.”
Except, it didn’t work out like that. The following year the Lancers stumbled to a 3-5 record and barely made the playoffs, a big part of that reason was the knee injury Kennedy suffered that year against University of Toronto, “The injury really affected a lot. I had to change the way I played, couldn’t move around a lot.” After having high expectations going into the season, it would be a disappointment, and those across the province left wondering if The Lancers would ever break out into a championship team.
The following year proved to be another year of not fulfilling potential. Sidelined a couple games, the Lancers finished with a 4-4 record, ending their season early with another first round playoff loss. That being his senior year, Kennedy along with fellow seniors on the team could have departed university and started their lives after football. That didn’t happen as they all decided to come back for a 5th and final shot at the elusive Yates Cup.
The 5th year was Kennedy’s most successful season in his career, after finishing with a 5-3 record (Kennedy also tied the OUA career leader in touchdown passes with 79) Windsor hosted its first playoff game since 2006, going into the playoffs with sky high expectations and the city watching. It didn’t go as planned, with the Lancers losing 46-29 and the door slamming shut on all the potential Kennedy and the Lancers displayed that season. It was a disappointing finish to the illustrious career of Austin Kennedy, and many would say that he never fulfilled the promise he showed in that first game against Laurier.
There was talk of Kennedy being the next Canadian quarterback in the CFL, he even went to a Edmonton Eskimos camp, but he himself knew that it was a long shot for him. “I don’t think that right now any Canadian quarterback has the skill set to play in the league. Maybe in the future there would be a few who could develop and get that skill set, but I don’t think teams would want to take the time and resources to do that when they have Americans who are ready.” He doesn’t lose too much sleep over it though, due to graduate this year and then work toward earning his MBA and starting his career in business.
The legacy of Austin Kennedy can be viewed as one that was successful but will always be looked at as what if? What if he didn’t get hurt? What if a few bounces had gone their way that magical season and they headed to the Yates cup? These are questions that can be asked but never answered, but in the end he had one of the best careers ever in the CIS and will be remembered as such.