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February 15, 2011

Kennedy Estelle - star on the rise

When you see him on the football field, Kennedy Estelle could be described as a man among boys. At 6-7 and close to 300 pounds, Estelle is one of the country's top overall football prospects, and he towers above the crowd in virtually any athletic or social setting.

In 2010, Estelle's talents helped pave the way for an strong Pearland Dawson offense on a team that just missed winning a regional championship. In 2010, Estelle just missed bringing home a gold medal in the shot put at the UIL State Track Championships, finishing second in Class 4A.

The scary part … Estelle is only scratching the surface of his athletic potential.

Only 16, the ultra-talented junior at Dawson will not turn 17 until June. Still, Kennedy's talents are impossible to miss on the football field and college coaches from around the country have taken notice. Dawson head coach Eric Wells believes Estelle is the total package, and he expects his blue-chip lineman to only get better.

"In my experience in watching so much football, you don't have many 6-7, 300-pound kids that can bend and move like him. He's an explosive player off the ball. His ability to run, whether he's getting downfield or pulling on counter plays, he runs like a linebacker," Wells said. "He'll be in college when he turns 18. He's a very intense player, always trying to ask about ways he can get better. As a coach, you love those types of kids."

Estelle's physical talents are easy to spot from play to play, but he also has a penchant for leading the team, something unique for a player of his age and at his position.

"He's not afraid to stand up after practice, after I've addressed the team and talk about goals, things we need to do," Wells said. "You don't see that a lot from linemen. You see it from quarterbacks or linebackers, or from your seniors, but he's not afraid to call a team meeting or anything like that. Everybody on team looks up to him, literally."

During his coaching career, which included six seasons and two state championships at powerhouse La Marque, Wells had the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented players. Included in that group was Greg Robinson-Randall, who went on to start at Michigan State and play for the New England Patriots on two Super Bowl teams. Wells compares Estelle's talent level to that or Robinson-Randall in terms of size and athleticism, but he gives Estelle the edge in his athleticism and ability to move.

On the recruiting front, Estelle holds offers from schools like Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oregon, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, among others. On Sunday, the Texas Longhorns joined the list during a junior day visit and on Monday, the Auburn Tigers threw their name into the hat.

"He's been offered by some of the bigger ones around the country … and pretty much all the Texas schools," Wells said. "It's really just a matter of who gets his film and who doesn't. Anyone who gets video on him, they usually call back within a day or two and offer him."

Estelle has now taken junior day visits to both Texas A&M and Texas in recent weeks. Right now, he has no other visits on his schedule, but that could change depending on what his schedule allows, particularly with track and field season now heating up.

Estelle has yet to name an official list of favorites, but there is growing speculation that the race for his commitment could turn into an in-state battle between the Longhorns and the Aggies. Wells said both programs are certainly in the mix, but he was quick to note that other programs still have a fighting chance.

"I think Texas and Texas A&M are definitely up there just listening to him," Wells said. "But I think he still has some questions about maybe some of the SEC schools. I know he's talked about Auburn before and now that they've offered him, I don't know what happens with that.

"But I have to feel like, for me anyway, he may want to stay a little closer to Texas. He hasn't told me that though. I'll have to talk to his parents and see how they feel. But I know their big thing has always been what's best for (Estelle) and they're good with whatever."

Estelle's stock should continue to soar as more and more schools get wind of his skill set, and Wells is hoping other young student-athletes in the Dawson program will follow Estelle's lead. There's even talk of having Estelle address some of the junior high football players in the district to help instill good values in those players.

"It's really good (to have him in the Dawson program). The thing about it is, Estelle, he's a vocal guy. He doesn't beat around the bush. He talks about winning, the things that have to be done. I've heard him make a comment that he's going to work as hard as he can every day... 'just do what I do and we have a chance.' He's that kind of leader, he leads by example.

"He's one of those kids that everybody in the school knows who he is. When he walks down the hall he's a foot taller than everybody and you can see him from across the building. But I know all the administrators on campus and the teachers like Estelle. He's just overall a good kid.

"You hear it all the time but it's hard when you're 16 years old, 6-7 and 300 pounds and people think you're a grown up. The reality of it is, there's a kid in there too. People have to realize that too."


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