One of the nation's top strength and conditioning coaches, Dave Kennedy is entering his fourth season as an integral member of the Nebraska football staff. Kennedy serves as the Huskers' head strength coach. He joined the staff after being lured away from the University of Pittsburgh by Nebraska Coach Bill Callahan, who had previously tried to hire Kennedy when Callahan was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
Kennedy's services greatly expanded last year with the addition of the new Tom and Nancy Osborne Athletic Complex at Memorial Stadium. Kennedy oversaw the massive transition of the strength staff in its move to a new weight room that houses the latest in technological advances to aid the Huskers' strength training and conditioning program.
Kennedy and his staff can now better serve the Huskers’ needs in the new facility. The strength complex is part of a centrally located student-athlete corridor that includes the football locker room and the training and rehabilitation area, all within a few feet of each other.
The strength facility is more than one and a half times the size of the previous strength center, which was universally recognized for years as the best in the country.
Kennedy has helped Nebraska continue its tenure as the preeminent strength and conditioning program in the nation. Under a watchful eye in the weight room, two Huskers earned first-team freshman All-America honors in 2005 while defensive end Adam Carriker was named the Big 12’s Defensive Lineman of the Year as a senior in 2006.
Carriker, who also served as his team’s quarterback in high school, was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the first round (13th pick) of the 2007 NFL Draft. Kennedy’s efforts also benefited I-back Brandon Jackson, who left school following his junior season in 2006 and was a second-round selection (No. 63) by the Green Bay Packers, the highest-drafted I-back at Nebraska since 1996.
Kennedy got his start in the strength and conditioning field at Nebraska, where he earned his degree and trained under Boyd Epley. Kennedy worked his way up the ladder at Nebraska, serving as a student assistant from 1982 until he graduated with a degree in strength coaching in 1985. He helped Epley as an assistant strength coach from 1985 to 1988.
After working on the Nebraska staff, Kennedy was hired as the head football strength coach at Ohio State in 1989. At Ohio State, Kennedy helped bring the Buckeye program to national prominence as he worked with standouts such as Eddie George, Orlando Pace, Joey Galloway, Dan Wilkinson, David Boston, Andy Katzenmoyer, Shawn Springs, Robert Smith and Mike Vrabel. The players Kennedy worked with produced 21 All-America awards while also winning the Heisman and Outland trophies as well as the Butkus, Biletnikoff, Thorpe and Lombardi awards. Seventeen of his Buckeyes went on to be first-round NFL Draft picks.
Kennedy received Ohio State’s Admiral’s Trophy prior to the 1993 Holiday Bowl. The Admiral’s Trophy, voted on by the players, goes to the person whose dedication, hard work and spirit most inspired the team.
During his 13 years at Ohio State, Kennedy established himself as one of the premier strength coaches in the country, drawing praise from ESPN GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit.
“To me in this day and age of college football," Herbstreit said, "the strength coach position has become a high priority because the strength coach is with the players the most of anyone on the staff. His job is to create a winning attitude through the physical and mental development of the players. Dave Kennedy sets the bar in the college football community.”
The Omaha native left Ohio State before the start of the 2002 season and joined Head Coach Walt Harris’ staff at Pittsburgh. At Pittsburgh, Kennedy helped wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald develop into a Heisman Trophy runner-up and the recipient of the 2003 Walter Camp and Biletnikoff awards.
Dave and his wife, Julie, have three sons, Ben, Nick and Eric. Julie was a former Husker Hostess for the football recruiting program.
The Kennedy File
Date and Place of Birth: Born Nov. 15, 1960, in Omaha, Neb.
Family: wife, Julie; sons, Ben (13), Nick (11), Eric (7)
Education: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, bachelors in strength coaching, 1985
Strength Coaching Experience: 1982-85, Nebraska (student assistant strength coach); 1986-88, Nebraska (assistant strength coach); 1989-2001, Ohio State (head strength coach); 2002-2003, Pittsburgh (head strength coach); 2004-present, Nebraska (head strength coach)