By BRYAN URBACH
Traylon Shead and Malcome Kennedy played together as teammates in one of Cayuga’s most memorable football seasons, the 2009 State Championship run.
When Southern Methodist University and Texas A&M competed against each other this season, the storyline was set for the two former stars to play on opposite teams, but something happened.
Traylon wasn’t able to make the trip because of a leg injury he suffered in the first game of the season.
One of the great things about football, though, is even when someone is down-and-out, friendships remain strong.
In the week after Texas A&M’s Malcome Kennedy caught three touchdown passes from quarterback Johnny “Johnny Football” Manziel against the national powerhouse of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Kennedy and Shead were poised to have a game to remember against each other. Traylon’s father Bill Shed said even though the two former Wildcats weren’t able to face one another, the two still talked all of the time, especially after Traylon’s injury.
“They were really good friends then (at Cayuga), and as a matter of fact, they still are,” Bill Shead said. “They still talk to each other every night. When Traylon got hurt, they talked, and I know Traylon talked to him the other night after Malcome scored those three touchdowns against Alabama.”
Coming out of a small town like Cayuga, it seemed impossible for the two former stars to make a difference in the college world. Bill Shead said this was something that both of the players have been waiting for their entire lives, and they are excited to be able to get the chance.
“I can remember when we went down and they were recruiting Malcome and Traylon,” Bill Shead said. “I can tell you right now, they almost passed him (Malcome) over, and I kept telling the coach that was recruiting him that ‘he’s an athlete. He played quarterback in high school, but I promise you, he’s an athlete. You can put him at receiver or in the slot and he’ll be good.’ You know, I was just trying to get him into school at that point. I never dreamed that he would be catching three touchdown passes against Alabama.”
The 2009 State Champions from Cayuga were the talk of the town during that season. For Traylon and Malcome, Bill Shead said playing on that team in high school was one of the turning points in both of their lives.
“It was a good time,” Bill Shead said. “You know, Traylon and Malcome became real good friends during that time. They were two great athletes on that team, and really, they were all good athletes on that team. They were the ones who got the touchdowns every week, so that’s how they got the publicity.”
Traylon started his collegiate career at the University of Texas at Austin where he redshirted in the fall before playing sparingly in 2011. After that, he decided to transfer to Navarro College, a junior college in Corsicana, where he was able to get more playing time. There he rushed for 1,194 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Last December, Traylon signed with SMU and participated in spring drills before earning a spot on the SMU roster.
Traylon, who is poised to come back from his injury this weekend against TCU, should continue to play well the rest of the season.
“SMU gave Traylon an opportunity to play there, and it was a good opportunity for him,” Bill Shead said. “It was something they needed.
“For him, he has truly enjoyed it and worked hard at it, cause he always does that. He wants to get in there and contribute to the team.”
The elder Shed said that for his son, the change from junior college to SMU has been good for him.
“In fact, he’s back to his old self. He’s enjoying football again like he did back at Cayuga,” Bill Shed said.
Malcome Kennedy may have a different spotlight on him, at least until Traylon has fully recovered from his injury.
Kennedy said in a recent interview with the Associated Press that there’s never been any doubt that he would be able to perform at the collegiate level.
“As a player you have to have that confidence that you believe you'll play from the start,” he said. “It wasn’t really daunting at all. It’s something that you have to deal with.”
Malcome said that after Manziel rolls out of the pocket things begin to happen.
“It’s confusing, so we practice it a lot (but) I can only imagine how it is for defenses,” Kennedy said. “We’re just taught to burst and separate, and when we do that, Johnny sees that we’re open and he’ll put it up there.”
As if Bill Shead didn’t have enough to keep up with, with his two sons playing college football (Traylon at SMU and his other son, Tramon, at Lamar University), he said he always makes sure that every Saturday he finds a way to watch Malcome’s performances as well.
“If I’m at one of Traylon’s games, then I’ve got the recorder on filming Malcome’s games and then we watch it when we get home,” Bill Shead said. “We don’t miss any of Malcome’s games.”
Malcome and Traylon may have one more chance at playing each other again. Both players are considered juniors and if neither of them declare for the NFL draft, they could see each other again next season as seniors on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.
Bill Shead said he would be excited about seeing both of the players in action against one another for the first time if this happens.
With Malcome’s recent success and Traylon’s return, Bill Shead said the friendship between the players will continue to stay strong.
“They’re still going like they were in high school,” Bill Shead said. “They’re going to keep going and going and going. I promise you that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.