ORANGE PARK - With little fanfare and citing “the bond”, Orange Park High senior football standout Roderick Kearney announced that Florida State University in Tallahassee will be his next place …
ORANGE PARK - With little fanfare and citing “the bond”, Orange Park High senior football standout Roderick Kearney announced that Florida State University in Tallahassee will be his next place to play football.
“It’s about the bond; the people around you and how you feel about them, that made Florida State the final choice,” said Kearney, a four star offensive tackle with nearly 50 NCAA Division I schools; west to Oregon, north to Michigan, east to Rutgers and south to FSU, bantering for his immense athletic ability. “If the people around you aren’t right, you’re not going be right.”
Kearney, a massive 6’-4”, 300 pound offensive lineman, brings a sense of work ethic and athletic power to his game with time after time on film, Kearney seen bludgeoning defensive counterparts 10-12 yards downfield with the Raiders run game on his tail.
For the work ethic part, Kearney gave another Orange Park High football standout, Kendy Charles, a lot of the credit.
“Kendy gave me knowledge,” said Kearney. “When we had the quarantine (COVID), he was the one who kept me focused on doing the prep work to be ready when we got back on the field.”
Charles, now a standout junior defensive end at Liberty University after an All State career as a Raider, remembered seeing Kearney entering the locker room as a freshman of immense size.
“I saw this very big guy come in the room and the first thing that popped into my head was the way he carried himself in,” said Charles. “As a freshman, nobody knew who he was, but his size and his confidence when he walked in was what impressed me the most. We started a friendship right there.”
Charles, on defense, and Kearney, his nemesis on offense, created a working relationship that made both players improve their skills to outdo the other.
“When you get to practice against a guy like that every day, you can only get better and improve,” said Kearney. “He also kept me focused in the weightroom, the film room and on the field.”
With the very possibility of a Liberty vs. FSU football contest somewhere in the next two or three years; maybe a post-season bowl, Charles was confident that the intensity of the Raider practice sessions would present itself.
“Funny, but he knows I’m not going to go easy on him if I’m on the corner and he’s coming off the edge,” said Charles. “Whenever I came home, I talked to him about life and sometimes that comes up. He’s going to be great in whatever he does.”
For Kearney, that possible clash created a coy smile.
“I’m going to be ready for him if that happens,” said Kearney.
As for the process, Kearney credits his mom, Veronica, with his transition through the web of recruitment, school and Raider football.
“Through all the years, my mom has been the one I could talk to,” said Kearney. “Transportation rides, talks with me, she influenced me by helping me weave through all this to make a good decision. She’s very smart.”
In the Raider locker room, Kearney said his “brothers” in battle, the Raider teammates around him, get credit with giving him their take on things.
“My brothers here; JoJo (Restall RB), Brian (Green WR) and Nolan (Chambers WR) plus Braeden (Hawkins OL guard), we bonded here a lot and they helped in the decision,” said Kearney. “We all put a lot of work in to put Orange Park back on top.”