Fifth-year senior Chris Kearney's value to the San José State University football team goes beyond his numbers on a stat sheet. After a redshirt season in 2011, he was a hard-charging, determined special teams defender his first three seasons.
A year ago, he worked his way into the wide receiver rotation and caught passes in three of the final four games of the season.
With the graduation of three-year holder Daniel Bradbury, Kearney is the number-one candidate to hold on Spartan kick-scoring attempts this season.
"It’s going well. It’s easy. We have (long snapper) Ryan DiSalvo and (placekicker) Austin Lopez who have been here for a long time. They do a good job. I do what they say and it will all work out... We got to get the speed down. DiSalvo is really good with that. He knows the timing, how to spin the ball and how to get it back there quickly. My job is to catch it and put it down as quickly as possible."
The even-keeled, pleasant Kearney is somewhat amazed he is one of 10 fifth-year seniors on the 2015 team. He and Tyler Ervin are the two Spartans on this year's team to score special teams touchdowns in the 2012 season when San José State was 11-2, won the Military Bowl and was ranked 21st in the final national polls. They did it in the same game on an Ervin kickoff return and Kearney recovering a bad center snap in the end zone in the UTSA win in San Antonio's Alamodome.
"I’ve been here a long time. A bunch of people have come in and gone out. I feel this year we have the right group and the right coaching staff and it is coming together."
The 5-foot-11, 198-pounder from Laguna Niguel, Calif., last was a holder on a regular basis at Dana Hills High in Dana Point, Calif. He even held for a left-footed kicker.
“A little bit of a back-up holder in high school and a back-up holder the last few years here behind Daniel Bradbury. Austin and DiSalvo know what they’re doing. They brought me along pretty quickly.... In high school, we had a left footed kicker, so it is a little different. There are different hand placements. Other than that, it’s about the same.
“I want to get on the field whenever I can. Special teams are very important. Coach goes over it all the time. It’s the one aspect of the game when offense and defense come together.”
Kearney's roles this season will be on display when the season starts at home on September 3 vs. New Hampshire in a 7:00 p.m. game. Tickets in all price ranges are available by calling (408) 924-SJTX or by visiting sjsuspartans.com.