CEDAR RAPIDS — When college coaches won’t come to you, sometimes you’ve got to go to them.
Dyersville Beckman senior linebacker Kirby Kendrick attended summer football camps at 11 Division I and II schools in an effort to land a scholarship of some sort. The schools included Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Northern Illinois.
“In a way, you are selling yourself,” Kendrick said.
You’d think colleges would be all over the hard-nosed senior. He’s a two-time all-stater who had 115 tackles last season for a Beckman team that lost in the Class 2A state playoff semifinals to champion Iowa City Regina.
His coach, Gregg Hammann, believes Kendrick is a top-tier college player, and Hammann should know. He played college football for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
“He plays in the middle, but he has just as good of lateral movement,” said Hammann, whose team opens the 2012 season Friday night against rival Western Dubuque. “He can chase down sweeps and defend pass plays. It’s hard to find kids like that. He’s a great leader, has worked very well with our younger guys in the weight room. I don’t know what more a college coach could want in a player.”
Well, a little more size, probably. Kendrick is 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds, which is small for major colleges.
Hammann admits being undersized is the reason his linebacker doesn’t have his college plans already cemented but believes that shouldn’t completely count against him.
“That is frustrating,” Kendrick said. “You see some kids who have all these accolades at the camps, and you might feel like you’re better than they are. But I’m not letting anything hold me back. I don’t care who I’m going against, I’m going to compete my hardest.”
Hammann related a story from Iowa State’s camp in which a highly regarded tight end recruit came across the middle on a pass play, only to get lit up by Kendrick. The kid asked ISU’s coaches if he could wait until Kendrick left the field before they ran the play again.
“I didn’t have any idea who he was,” Kendrick said. “(Offensive coordinator) Coach (Courtney) Messingham came over and said ‘You know, we’re looking at that kid.’”
It’s virtually an entirely new cast for Beckman, which graduated a ton of guys from last season’s 11-2 team. But the Blazers think they’ll be just as good again.
Three of the five returning starters are up front, which always is good. Hammann’s son, Grant, is expected to take over at quarterback, with Kendrick seeing more offensive time as a running back.
“We’re going to be new, but we’re going to be pretty good,” Kendrick said.