The senior star running back for Benedictine Military School is one of the city’s stellar students.
It’s not all Snapchat and video games for today’s youth. Meet John Wesley Kennedy, senior and running back at Benedictine Military School, who has scored some major stats throughout his high school career. Written Sarah Taylor Asquith. Photography by Katie McGee.
It’s safe to say that 2016 was a good year for John Wesley Kennedy. As the leading rusher on Benedictine’s football team, he helped them finish the season undefeated, taking home the Class 2A state title in December; he also was named the Region 2-AA Player of the Year. What’s more, Wesley (he goes by his middle name) has received 14 offers for full-ride scholarships from colleges including Appalachian State, University of Cincinnati, Southern Miss, Georgia Southern and Tulane. His first offer arrived during his junior year.
“He’s the best overall slotback we’ve had in the seven years since I’ve been here. Pound for pound, he’s one of the strongest guys on our team and he’s also one of the fastest,” says Baker Woodward, BC’s offensive coordinator. “He’s very football-smart. We have a system for our offense and he adjusts to what the defense is doing without having to tell him.”
But Wesley, 18, would never tell you that. When asked to describe his strengths, he shrugs and drops his head. “I guess my speed, but I’m pretty balanced,” he says quietly. “I’m just trying to stay humble and work really hard.”
Over the course of his four years at BC, he’s scored some major stats: 7,552 all-purpose yards (a school record), 3,605 career rushing yards and 89 career touchdowns—usually at least one every game, he admits when prodded. “I try to play a little differently,” he adds. “I sit back, wait for my blocks and make a cut and go.”
As for that speed, his record for most yards in a game is 250, he says, and in 2015 he clocked 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. Yes, he’s also on BC’s track-and-field team—two of his scholarship offers are track/football combos. “Track was my first love,” says Wesley. “We have a lot fast people in our family, so it really started there and developed into football.”
Before his last track season at BC begins, he has to finish his last basketball season (he’s a point guard). And in the meantime, he needs to settle on one of those many scholarship offers. The deadline, his coach points out, is February 1.
Role models: “For football, I try to model my game after the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. and the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott. But my mom is my hero. We’ve been through a lot and I play the game for her. She’s taught me how to be a man, to always be responsible and to take up for my mistakes.”
When I grow up, I want to be … “I would love to go pro, but I know that might not work out. I want to major in business management.”