FAMU’s Kennion reunites with grandfather on fan day
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Getting a phone call from his grandson when he was a player at Auburn University didn’t surprise Emmitt Alexander.
It was customary for Raashed Kennion to check in. But Alexander wasn’t expecting the call from his grandson saying he wants to transfer to FAMU.
“He just called and said he wanted to come home,” Alexander said Sunday at the Lawson Center. “I said OK and went to pick him up.”
As surprised as Alexander was, he understood it, though. Kennion was born in Tallahassee and four members of his family, including Alexander, had attended FAMU. Alexander also played cornerback for the Rattlers in the early 1970s.
Kennion signed to play at Auburn in 2014 after an accolade-filled high school career at Jacksonville First Coast.
Alexander couldn’t help beaming as throngs of FAMU supporters flocked around his grandson for his autograph. Like most of the 2,000 or so who showed up at the Lawson Center, Alexander was there for a pep rally better known as fan day.
Kennion, who plays defensive back, was just as ecstatic as his grandfather.
“I wanted to come back and give back to the people who raised me,” he said, explaining his decision to transfer. “It’s exciting. Everybody makes you feel like family around here.
“I have so many memories from when I was a little kid walking around here. It makes me appreciate it more.”
Alexander said he is excited for the Rattlers this season — not only because of his grandson who is in his senior season – but because of other transfers that coach Alex Wood brought in.
“I feel it because I can see the enthusiasm of the players,” he said. “Coach can talk all he wants but it’s the players that are going to do it. I can see it in their faces as I walk around today.”
The four-hour celebration of the team began with a fund-raising luncheon put on by the FAMU Boosters. The final two hours were spent with fans, signing posters, footballs or whatever else they could find for an autograph.
Players exuded a kind of confidence that Tommy Mitchell, president of the Boosters, said he hadn’t seen in a few seasons.
“It’s the kind of enthusiasm that seems to be commensurate with this team,” Mitchell said. “Folks are pretty excited and we all are optimistic. I think (the season) is going to go well.”
It didn’t seem anyone in the building disagreed. Especially not Joe Bullard, a diehard fan who also is the voice of the Marching 100 band.
“The Rattlers are back,” said Bullard, watching his grandson Donovan basked in all that was going on around him. “We’re bringing it back and the players even look like they want it.
“The wait is over. The truth is here.”
A day earlier, coach Alex Wood took the Rattlers through their final scrimmage in preparation for Saturday’s opener against Texas Southern. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.
Wood purposely set Saturday’s practice for a noon start to get his players acclimatized to anticipated heat. But it turned not to be as hot as earlier in the week.
“That was the most disappointing thing,” said Wood, obviously pleased with the up-tempo dress rehearsal. “It wasn’t hot enough. But you could never dictate or control Mother Nature. It is what it is, but we got some good work in.”