Year off a 'Blessing in disguise' for Kennard

USC redshirt senior Devon Kennard originally didn't have any plans to still be around Troy in the year 2013... but after sitting out 2012 due to injury, he's back for his fifth and final year. Kennard's coaches call last year a 'Blessing in disguise' for the defensive end turned outside linebacker.

The 2012 season was over before it even started for defensive end Devon Kennard.

` Kennard tore his pectoral muscle before the open of fall camp, effectively sidelining and forcing him to redshirt his senior season.

Now a year later, Kennard is back, healthy, and is ready to lead USC in its season opener against Hawaii on Aug. 29.

"I'm so excited," Kennard said after practice on Sunday. "I'm just trying to take it one day at a time and not get too ahead of myself, but I'm looking forward to the opportunity.

Though less than ideal to have to watch his team struggle to a 7-6 finish from the sideline his senior season, Kennard says the experience made him become a better football player. "I learned how to deal with it, became a better person and player from it," he explained.

Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron agreed, calling the year off a "blessing in disguise."

"He's a fantastic young man," Orgeron explained. "He's like a coach on the field... He's gotten better as a coach."

The year delay also means Kennard will now have the opportunity to play outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's new 3-4 scheme, as opposed to defensive end in the Trojans old 4-3 under former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.

"He's more at home [in the 3-4]," Orgeron explained. "We really expect him to have a great year."

USC head coach Lane Kiffin pointed toward Kennard and fellow defensive lineman George Uko as two players who "practiced like champions" throughout fall camp, setting the example for their teammates.

"If had had to say someone had a great camp, he's one of them," echoed Orgeron.

Kennard was voted a 2013 team captain by his teammates along with junior Marcus Martin, junior Marqise Lee, and redshirt junior Hayes Pullard.

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