At 6-7, 325, Kennedy is one Husky asset NFL scouts drooling over Incredible Bulk

December 31, 1992|By Thomas Bonk | Thomas Bonk,Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Lincoln Kennedy, true or false:

1) He is bigger than Delaware.

2) He is actually named Tamerlane Kennedy.

3) He sat out his first four games at San Diego's Morse High because nobody could find size-17 cleats.

4) He filled out a questionnaire as a freshman football player at Washington and listed his favorite food as "seafood platters."

5) He said he got to be 6 feet 7 and 325 pounds because of "good baby food."

6) He worries when his weight dips below 315 because he "feels woozy."

7) He is probably going to be the first lineman chosen in the NFL draft.

Now, the correct answers. . . they're true. All of them. Well, perhaps Kennedy isn't actually bigger than the state of Delaware. Rhode Island maybe, not Delaware.

Anyway, nobody is going to quibble with someone the stature of Washington Husky offensive lineman extraordinaire Lincoln Kennedy, the Incredible Bulk, who not only carries the names of two former presidents but also probably the most poundage on something not found in a corral.

As far as offensive linemen go -- and it isn't very far, you take one step forward and then try to plant the guy in front of you -- Kennedy is already at the top of his class. Kennedy is Washington's biggest and most highly touted offensive lineman in a group that will use the Rose Bowl as an exercise to try to knock Michigan's defensive line back to, say, Ann Arbor.

From tackle to tackle, the Huskies' offensive line is so big, it looks more like a front coming through: 325 pounds, 290, 265, 283, 290. And it all starts with Kennedy, an All-American, a finalist for the Lombardi Award and a semifinalist for the Outland Trophy.

Kennedy's career at Washington has enabled him to permanently retire the tag of Big Man on Campus. But Kennedy's emergence as a solid football player capable of blotting out the sun with his mere presence has not cut back on his development as an all-around, fun-loving type of college kid who just might be the next millionaire in the neighborhood.

No, this former choir member who played trumpet in his high school band, who writes poetry and lands acting roles in university plays, wants you to know what kind of guy he really is.

And what kind is that?

"People think that guys who are big are supposed to be intimidating and bullies and always aggressive," Kennedy said. "I tell people time and time again, I'm not that type of person. There's no reason big guys have to be bullies.

"I'm aggressive when I have to be, but I'm not a person who goes out there with a smash-maim-kill type of attitude. Before a game, I'm not banging my head on a locker trying to get fired up or going out there and being excited when I'm bleeding or something. That's never been me."

If the truth is known, Kennedy is as comfortable on the stage as he is on the football field, maybe even more so. A 21-year-old senior drama major, Kennedy's last role was in a university production of a play called "Life of the Party," in which he played a chain-smoking high school teacher. Let the record show that Kennedy has never portrayed a football player. Kennedy simply doesn't want to be typecast.

The questions about his size do not end, although maybe there won't be as many when he gets summoned to the NFL and the people around him look more or less the same as he does.

"It seems like anytime anybody wants to find out something about you, it's like 'How did you get too big?' You think of it, well, I don't know. It just happened. It's not like I sat down in 1978 and planned it out that I wanted to be this tall and weigh this much.

"Or they say, 'How big were you as a baby?' It's not like I came out 6 foot 4."

But when he showed up at the Washington campus in Seattle and presented himself to coach Don James, Kennedy didn't exactly look much like an accomplished player. Weighing 344 pounds, he fell in his first timed 40-yard --.

From such humble beginnings, a large legend was born. Switched from defense to offense in 1989 after redshirting as a freshman, Kennedy started eight games the following season and earned second team all-conference honors.

In 1991, Kennedy hit the big time. He started 12 games at weak-side tackle and was named the winner of the Morris Trophy as the Pacific 10's top offensive lineman. This season, Kennedy increased his streak to 31 starts and yielded only two sacks in 11 games.

All of this has made Kennedy one of James' favorites. Said James: "He's fun to be around."

Last week at the Beef Bowl at Lawry's, Kennedy drew a lot of attention, but not for eating. He sang. Apparently the critics loved it and even James sounded sort of surprised that he actually might have enjoyed what he heard.

"It was good," he said. "It wasn't rap or anything like that."

The song continues to play for Kennedy, soon to be accompanied by the sound of money clinking into his bank account. By some estimates, Kennedy might be drafted in the top five in the first round, which ought to help him pay a $16,000 premium for a $1.5 million Lloyd's of London insurance policy he took out so he felt secure enough to return for his senior year at Washington.

"The reason I came back was to raise my stock, so when I do make the move to the NFL, it's as best as it possibly can be," he said.

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