Hornet Quarterback Grows into a Winner

Alabama State's Darnell Kennedy will get a chance to show what he can do in the Blue-Gray All Star Football Classic on Christmas Day at Montgomery's Cramton Bowl.  But the road to being a winner was paved with some tough lessons for this Alabama State Hornet.

He's the school's all time career passing leader and he ranks in the top ten in Division I-AA passing and total offense. Darnell Kennedy is a household name to Alabama State fans. But a funny thing happened last season when Kennedy was introduced to his new quarterback coach, Johnnie Cole.

"He sat me down and said that really I wasn't a winner. As a quarterback I had all kinds of yards and all kinds of touchdowns and all kinds of records. But he showed me some tape and said that I gave up on a lot of plays and I really could see it," remembers Kennedy.

Cole told Kennedy he may have set all kinds of records, but he was still on a losing football team. "It's all about winning championships. As a quarterback, it's all about winning championships," says Cole.

Under the tutelage of Cole, Kennedy flourished. He had over 3,400 yards and 33 touchdown's last season, tops in all of black college football. But it's the little things Cole taught him that have made him a better player with the ability to take it to the next level.

"Everything I know about football these past two years (has come from) working with Coach J.C. Cole. He's really helped me out in understanding football, understanding the game, clock management, when to get out of bounds and when not to."

But Cole has not only been a guide on the field. He has been a guide and mentor to Kennedy off the field. The two spend hours a day with each other and the bond has grown to be more than that of coach and quarterback.

"I'm two hours away from home and my dad is at work all of the time because he has two jobs. I spend a lot of time with him (Cole) and I talk to him about things that happen off the field."

Family is important to Kennedy, who keeps a picture of his family in his helmet. "My mom, dad, little sister, and grandmother come to every game. But you know we play some games in Texas and they can't drive to Texas so I try to keep them with me at every game."