|Position:||Assistant Coach - Running Backs|
Kennedy Polamalu was elevated to Offensive Coordinator in January of 2016 after serving as the UCLA running backs coach the previous two seasons. He was hired as running backs coach in December 2013 and coached during the Hyundai Sun Bowl. A long-time collegiate and NFL coach, Polamalu returned to Westwood where he previously served as a graduate assistant coach for the Bruins during the 1992 and 1993 seasons.
“We are thrilled to have a man and coach of Kennedy's stature in the Bruin Family,” said Mora at the time of his hiring. “Kennedy is widely regarded as one of the finest football coaches in America, and our student athletes will benefit not only from his coaching but also his mentorship.”
In 2015, Paul Perkins became the first Bruin back to record back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since DeShaun Foster in 2000-01. He also became the first Bruin back to catch at least 70 passes in a career. Perkins, selected by the NY Giants in the 2016 NFL Draft, was named second-team all-conference and ranked among the nation’s top 25 in rushing yards (1,343) and rushing touchdowns (14). In addition, three other Bruin backs gained at least 190 yards during the season.
In the 2014 season, Polamalu's unit produced the leading rusher in the Pac-12 Conference who totaled the second-highest rushing yard total in school history (1,575 yards). Perkins also became the 13th back in school history to reach the 1,000-yard rushing milestone.
A four-year letterman (1982-85) as both fullback and linebacker at USC, most recently Polamalu was the Trojans offensive coordinator and running backs coach from 2010-12 in his second stint with the team. During his first tenure as an assistant coach at his alma mater from 2000-03, he served as running backs coach (2000), special teams coordinator (2001) and running backs coach & special teams coordinator (2002, 2003).
From 2004-09, Polamalu worked in the NFL ranks as Tennessee Titans running backs coach following the 2009 season, Jacksonville Jaguars running backs coach (2005-09) and Cleveland Browns running backs coach (2004-05). While in Jacksonville, both Fred Taylor (2007) and former UCLA great Maurice Jones-Drew (2009) earned Pro Bowl honors as the Jaguars offense totaled the third most rushing yards in the NFL over that time, including four Top 10 rushing finishes. In 2009, Jones-Drew finished fourth in the NFL in rushing (1,391 yards), fourth in scrimmage yards (1,765) and second in total touchdowns scored (16). In 2008, Greg Jones became the highest paid fullback in NFL history.
Polamalu also previously served as an assistant coach at San Diego State (1999, 1994-96) and Colorado (1997-98). While with the Bruins as a graduate assistant coach (1992-93), he worked with the secondary and special teams and helped the 1993 team earn a Rose Bowl berth after capturing a share of the Pac-10 title.
Beginning his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Crespi High in Encino (Calif.) for three seasons (1986-88) and then at Westlake High in Westlake Village (Calif.) for three more seasons (1989-91), Polamalu helped lead his team at Crespi to the 1986 CIF Division I championship.
Polamalu, who earned his bachelor’s degree in history from USC in 1987, attended Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., where he was a prep All-American in football, member of the basketball and track teams and also served as the student body president.
Polamalu’s family football tree is extensive. His nephew, Troy Polamalu, starred in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers; his brother, Ao Polamalu, played football at Penn State (1985-87); his nephew Nicky Sualua played running back in the NFL with Dallas and Cincinnati after attending Ohio State; and three other nephews played college football (Leie Sualua - Oregon, Joe Polamalu - Oregon State and Kaio Aumua – UTEP)