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NFL Draft

Kenny Yeboah: 2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview Series

  • The Draft Network
  • March 5, 2021
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The 2021 NFL Draft is filled with tight ends from some of the biggest programs in the nation, and Ole Miss’ Kenny Yeboah is among the best this year’s group has to offer.

A dangerous pass-catcher who put up big numbers for the Rebels in 2020, Yeboah recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about what his skill set brings to the next level, the decision to transfer from Temple to Ole Miss and what that journey entailed, his run-ins with Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, and why soccer was the first sport that he played growing up.

JM: I’ve interviewed a lot of prospects who played different positions in high school, but I think this is a first for me. In addition to playing some wide receiver and defensive back, you also handled kicking and punting duties. That’s awesome. What was that like?

KY: I grew up playing soccer. My family is of African descent so soccer was always the most popular sport in my household growing up. If you’re African, you played soccer. It was the first sport I played.

I remember my senior year of high school, we didn’t have a spot kicker to kick the ball off. I just told my coaches, “Hey, I used to play soccer. I can do it.”  I just tried it out and I did it (laughs). It was great.

JM: I went to school with a few Yeboahs. It’s Ghanian, right?

KY: Yes sir, that’s correct. My dad is from Ghana and my mom is from Liberia.

JM: I thought so. Who’s your favorite soccer team?

KY: My dad is a really big Chelsea fan. I’ve always been a Manchester United fan personally. I also like Borussia Dortmund in Germany.

JM: I’m a big soccer guy. I’m of Portuguese descent, so I’m a big Cristiano Ronaldo fan.

KY: Yes sir! I love that. I’ve really been debating whether or not to buy FIFA 21. I used to play FIFA a lot.

JM: You gotta’ get it. I just got it on the PS5. It’s amazing.

KY: Oh, you did?!? I just got a PS5 as well. I’ve really been debating it. I think you just convinced me (laughs). Is it worth it?

JM: I’m pretty impressed with it. I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting much, but the next gen graphics really shine through.

KY: Oh man, that’s great to hear. I’m gonna get it then.

JM: I love that. I gotta get back on topic here. Back to your kicking career, what do you think is the farthest field goal you can make today?

KY: You know what’s crazy, before I left Ole Miss, we were messing around on the field and whatnot. We spent a lot of time working out outside because of COVID-19. We were messing around and I kicked a field goal. I think it was from the 20-yard line.

Kicking field goals is all about kicking under the ball. That’s how you get it to go through the uprights. I’m not gonna lie to you though, I toe-punted it (laughs). It hurt so much, but I made it!

JM: That’s hilarious (laughs). Whatever works. I thought you had a great year in 2020. It was the only season that you played at Ole Miss and things really went well for you. Tell me about the decision to transfer to Ole Miss.

KY: Growing up down the road in Allentown, Temple was my biggest offer. I went to Temple as a wide receiver. I made the move to tight end and I had to learn how to block.

I had three or four different coaches throughout my time at Temple. I played in three or four different offenses. It felt like the same thing over and over again. Temple isn’t really known for tight ends. It’s rare that a tight end goes there and produces big numbers. It just doesn’t happen. I didn’t really get the opportunity to produce.

I was a hard worker. I learned how to block. I knew my time was running out there. I had one more season left and I felt like I had to show people what I could do. I knew I could catch the ball at a high level.

That’s when I really started to think about transferring. I went to my parents and we talked about it for several weeks. After our last game of the season, I came to the conclusion that I would enter the transfer portal and search for a new team that would better put my skills to use.

That’s how that came about. I was committed to Baylor before I wound up at Ole Miss. Coach Matt Rhule recruited me. He wanted me to come to Baylor. I also had coach [Ed] Foley who was my tight ends coach at Temple, he was at Baylor as well so the fit made a lot of sense. I was ready to go to Baylor but that’s when coach Rhule left for the Carolina Panthers. 

Coach [Jeff] Lebby from Ole Miss had followed me on Twitter a few days before I was supposed to head to Baylor. He coached at UCF and I played in the same conference at Temple. I saw him often. I also knew that coach [Lane] Kiffin was there too.

I spoke with coach Lebby on Twitter and we got to talking over the telephone. They watched my film and they wanted me to take a visit. I took the visit and I loved it. I decided to decommit from Baylor and go to Ole Miss instead.

That’s how it went down (laughs).

JM: That is quite the journey. It worked out for you. You had a big season. You had six touchdown catches in eight games. You had 244 yards after the catch, which was top five at your position in the nation. The yards after catch especially catches my attention. What is it about your game that led to that success?

KY: I think it comes down to my speed, honestly. My background playing receiver in high school definitely helps. I remember my senior year of high school, a lot of my friends couldn’t believe that I was going to play tight end (laughs).

Coach Rhule sat me down and told me that if I wanted to play in the NFL one day, it would have to be as a tight end. He was right. I put the weight on and made a successful transition. I learned how to block and I became a complete tight end. Coach Rhule was so honest with me. He laid it all out for me. He basically said if you have NFL aspirations, this is what you need to do.

Ever since he told me that, I just worked hard every single day to make it happen. The blocking aspect was the toughest part. I’m a natural receiver, I have great hands. I’ve done everything in my power to make it work.

JM: You had a chance to go down to the Senior Bowl and prove that you can play the tight end position at the next level. What was that like?

KY: It was a great experience. They had us up early in the morning and late at night, it was a little stressful at times but it was wonderful. I was so thankful to be there. A lot of prospects would kill to get an invite to the Senior Bowl. I was around some of the best players in the country. It was unforgettable. It was such a cool experience. I went down there and learned from NFL coaches. I got to see how other players work and things of that nature. The entire operation was incredibly exciting and useful.

JM: I know that you met with all 32 teams down there, as all the prospects did. Did you feel like you had a great vibe with any of the teams in particular?

KY: I did meet with all 32 teams. We had 15-minute increments with each team over two separate nights. It probably took about five hours total. We met with 16 teams one day and the other 16 teams the next day. 

There are several teams that like me. New York Giants head coach Joe Judge sat in on my meeting. The Pittsburgh Steelers, their GM [Kevin Colbert] was in my meeting as well. The Saints liked me. I’m definitely catching the eye of several teams.

JM: That’s great. I’ve really appreciated your time today, Kenny. In closing, what kind of impact is Kenny Yeboah going to make at the next level?

KY: I’m looking forward to learning a lot from the veterans. I want to learn from the tight ends on the roster. That’s the main thing I’ve grasped from my older collegiate teammates that are already in the league. They all tell me that being a rookie is hard. 

I’m gonna try to make it as easy on myself as possible. I’m gonna learn the playbook. I show up early and leave late. That’s how I plan to focus. I’m gonna work hard. I’m the real deal. I can do it all. I can block, run routes, and catch. I want to prove myself at the next level.

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