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USC football: Kenechi Udeze says 'Purple is the color of loyalty'

September 22, 2009 |  2:15 pm

Vikings

There were plenty of familiar faces involved in Washington’s upset over USC last weekend, but I was surprised to see former Trojans defensive end Kenechi Udeze in Husky coaching gear.

Udeze, who retired from the NFL after a bout with leukemia, joined Washington's program as an assistant strength and conditioning coach, a position made available to him by Husky Coach Steve Sarkisian.

“Purple is the color of loyalty,” Udeze said before the game.

That statement came as a bit of a shock from a player who starred for USC and helped lead the Trojans to the Associated Press national title in 2003.

But Udeze said he contacted Trojans Coach Pete Carroll in July with interest in finding a position in USC’s program.

“He said ‘Give me two weeks,’” Udeze said. “I still haven’t heard from him.

"I called Sark on a Monday. He called me back Wednesday and said come on up.”

Udeze wonders if Carroll is still upset about his decision to skip his final year of eligibility and turn pro.

Udeze, a first-round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 2004, was the first high-profile player under Carroll to leave before exhausting his eligibility, a trend that has continued every year since.

Udeze said he was not bitter, but would probably finish his degree at Washington.

When I asked Carroll about Udeze after practice on Monday, he appeared shaken.

"I feel bad that I lost track of the timing in there to get him in school here on time -- I just blew it,” Carroll said. “I would love to have had an opportunity for him.

“I would love for him to be here, but I just lost track of what I needed to do to get it done.”

-- Gary Klein

Photo: Kenechi Udeze. Credit: Craig Lassig / Associated Press

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