Sports

Royals’ Laird commits to Cornell

Tribune file photo by Nick Lucero: Mission Prep’s Kevin Laird finds running room during a game against Bakersfield Christian in November.
Tribune file photo by Nick Lucero: Mission Prep’s Kevin Laird finds running room during a game against Bakersfield Christian in November. Tribune

Mission Prep standout senior football player Kevin Laird has verbally committed to play at Cornell, he said Sunday.

Laird, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound wide receiver/defensive back, said he was attracted to Cornell because they throw the ball well. After putting up great numbers on both sides of the ball last season, Laird said he isn’t sure where he’ll play yet.

“They like me on both sides of the ball. They’re looking at wide receiver and safety. They’ not quite sure,” he said.

Laird was named to The Tribune’s all-county first team as a defensive back and led the Royals to the CIF-Central Section Division V quarterfinals. He finished the season with 1,171 rushing yards, 827 passing yards, 322 receiving yards and 27 touchdowns, all team highs. His 10 interceptions were the second-best total in the Central Section, topped only by Corcoran’s Ryan Luna with 12.

Laird was the East Sierra League MVP and was named to the second team as an all-purpose player on the MaxPreps Small Schools High School Football All-State Team.

Laird said he’s coming into school as a communications major.

Cornell, a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) team that plays in the Ivy League, went 2-8 last season. Jim Knowles, the Big Red’s head coach for the past six years, resigned last month to become the defensive coordinator at Duke. The school was 26-34 during his tenure. A national search for a replacement is ongoing.

“With the coaching situation, I have a feeling it will open up the competition for playing time,” Laird said. “I don’t expect to play going in, it’s a Division I football program. The Ivy League has a great tradition. I don’t expect to go from Mission Prep to playing right off the bat.”

Last season, Cornell was ranked 87th in the nation in total offense at 301.5 yards per game, and 68th in rushing offense at 128.9 yards per game. The Big Red was 106th in total defense at 405.3 yards per game.Ivy League schools do not award sports scholarships.

“It was all about the academics and setting myself up for my future,” Laird said. “Cornell opens up so many doors. It was a hard decision, but it’s going to pay off.”

  Comments