It was reported last weekend that Alabama was attempting to block a grad transfer offensive lineman from going to a school within the SEC, but that player was appealing their decision to deny his transfer choices. And now it appears the Tide are one step closer to making sure he doesn’t play against them on a rival’s roster.
According to a report from AL.com, Alabama denied redshirt sophomore Brandon Kennedy’s initial appeal against their decision to bar him from transferring to another SEC school. Kennedy has reportedly shown the most interest in Tennessee and Auburn. But if Alabama has their way, he won’t be going to either school or anywhere inside the conference.
Kennedy, who already graduated in December of 2017, can still make his case heard, though.
The 6-foot-3, 305 pound offensive lineman will have an in-person hearing with Alabama’s appeal board according to the same report from AL.com. But if the Tide’s decision on his initial appeal is any indication, that hearing with the appeal board will likely end with the same result.
Kennedy is close to completing the requirements for his master’s degree at Alabama, and he’ll have two years of eligibility wherever he transfers. He never started a game for Alabama in his three years there. He appeared in three games last season against Fresno State, Vanderbilt, and Ole Miss but served primarily as the Tide’s backup center. Then he suffered a season-ending foot injury early in the season and earned a medical redshirt after the season. He appeared in seven games in 2016 but never started.
Coming out of high school, Kennedy was a four-star guard according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Those rankings had him as the No. 296 overall player and No. 19 guard in the 2015 class. Tennessee had offered him, as did Clemson and Auburn.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban was asked about his thoughts on grad transfers last week at the Greystone Golf & Country Club. And he likened those types of transfers to free agency in the NFL.
“We have an SEC rule about — do we want to have free agency within our conference?” Saban said per 247Sports. “And I think there’s certain circumstances and situations where it may be better for the student-athlete, and in those cases, I would be supportive of the guy who’s doing it. I’ve done it in the past and I’ve not done it in the past. But I do think that this whole transfer thing is something that we should look at more from 1,000 feet…do we want free agency in the SEC so guys would be able to leave your team and go play for somebody else next year that you have to play against? And I do feel that there are cases where that may be a viable option, if it’s for academic reasons.”
This isn’t the first time Alabama has attempted to block a player from transferring within the conference, though. Back in 2016, Alabama attempted to prevent defensive back Maurice Smith from going to Georgia for his final year of eligibility. But despite their efforts to stop him from transferring to Georgia, the SEC intervened and allowed Smith to go to the Bulldogs.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey stated that a grad transfer should have the freedom to go wherever he chooses as long as he’s completed the requirements asked of him by the school he currently attends.
“The standard for granting waivers has been clear and compelling evidence that there is reason for allowing an exception to SEC rules,” Sankey said back in 2016. “I found, among other contributing factors, that a student-athlete who graduates in three years and exhibits a strong commitment to his or her academic future provides compelling motivation to help them achieve their goals on and off the field.”
Smith wound up playing in 12 games for Georgia in 2017 and totaled 50 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, two interceptions, three passes defended, two forced fumbles, and a defensive touchdown off an interception.
Tennessee recently added another offensive lineman to their 2018 roster with the addition of Jarious Abercrombie to their 2018 class. It’s likely Abercrombie will be a walk-on as opposed to a scholarship player, but the 6-foot-6, 320 pound lineman at least provides another big body to a thin offensive line unit for the Vols.