Early recruiting is all the rage these days in college football. That works for some recruits and for some recruits it does not.
People develop at different rates and not everyone is college football ready at 15 years old. Some experts have said that Herschel Walker was one of the few guys that could have skipped college football and gone straight to the NFL.
But, some guys are just not physically matured at an early age. Some guys peak at an early age and really never get any better.
Offering 8th grade kids scholarships these days borders on ridiculous.
Perennial All Pro Offensive Tackle Mike Kenn of the Atlanta Falcons never would have gotten a scholarship offer in these days and times.
He actually almost didn’t get an opportunity back in his time, either.
The game of football would have missed out.
Mike Kenn was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois. In high school, Kenn attended Evanston Township High School and played for legendary high school coach Murney Lazier.
Lazier was the head coach at Township and led his teams to a very impressive 127-15-4 record. Kenn was a tall and skinny kid growing to around 6-6, 190 in high school. No coaches today would even consider an Offensive Tackle of that size. They weren’t really that interested in him back then.
But, coach Murney Lazier required his players to play a Spring sport. One of the Wolverines football assistants saw Kenn playing Lacrosse and was very impressed with his quickness and athletic ability. Legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler wasn’t interested in Mike Kenn at all. But, he was talked into taking a chance on Kenn.
Mike Kenn signed with the Michigan Wolverines where he started at Left Tackle from 1975 through 1977.
He eventually gained some weight, but was still fairly light as a sophomore. By the time he was a senior, he was up to around 270 pounds. Eventually, in the NFL, he would weigh as much as 290
During his sophomore season of 1975, the Wolverines had two 1,000 yard rushers. Senior Gordon Bell ran for 1,390 yards and 13 Touchdowns.
Junior Rob Lytle ran for 1,040 yards and 10 Touchdowns.
Both of these guys were talented, but naturally a lot of credit should go to the Offensive Line. They also had a true freshman playing Quarterback in Rick Leach from Flint, Michigan.
Kenn’s junior season of 1976 saw an improved Leach and senior Rob Lytle ran for 1,469 yards and 14 Touchdowns. Sophomore Harlan Huckleby ran for 912 yards and the Wolverines rolled to an impressive 10-2 record.
The Wolverines finished 10-2 again in 1977 and they could obviously run the football. Mike Kenn was a large part of that.
The Atlanta Falcons picked Mike Kenn in the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft. Kenn was a steady and reliable Left Tackle at Michigan, and he was the same and even better in the NFL. The skinny boy from Evanston, Illinois became one of the best Offensive Linemen in the NFL. He broke the
Atlanta franchise record for games started and played.
NFL coaches said they had never seen Offensive Linemen with his agility and quickness. Kenn gave up very few sacks and was a many time Pro Bowl player.
He played for the Atlanta Falcons for 17 seasons.
Today, Mike Kenn would be overlooked and would have to redshirt and sit out until at least his third year in a college weight program. Yet, he turned into a 6-7, 290 perennial All Pro. Probably, most people would put Mike Kenn into a category as one of the top 10 Offensive Tackles of all time.