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USC football: Devon Kennard moves from middle linebacker to defensive end

June 3, 2011 |  6:00 am


Devon Kennard is returning to where he began his USC career.

Kennard, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior who started at middle linebacker last season, will enter fall camp as a defensive end.

“They wanted to see me off the edge again, so I’m doing that and excited about it,” Kennard said Thursday after the Trojans’ first players-only workout of the summer.

Kennard, from Arizona, came to USC as an end and impressed former Coach Pete Carroll and his staff with his pass-rushing skills and overall athleticism. Kennard was an oft-used reserve for most of his freshman season before starting the ninth game against Arizona State. The next week, he started at strong-side linebacker and held the spot the final four games.

Lane Kiffin and his staff moved Kennard to middle linebacker last season and he started the first eight games. But Chris Galippo, the 2009 starter, regained the spot for the final five.

Kennard sat out spring practice while recuperating from hip surgery and was listed as a linebacker on the end-of-spring depth chart. He said coaches informed him of the switch to end a few weeks ago.

"It’s just another opportunity to show my versatility" he said, adding that he hoped to "do some of the things" that NFL All-Pro Clay Matthews did when he played defensive line for the Trojans in 2008.

Kennard bolsters a line that includes ends Nick Perry and Wes Horton. USC is still awaiting word on the status of Armond Armstead, who has played end and tackle. Armstead had tests on his heart in the offseason and did not participate in spring practice.

Kennard said his hip "felt pretty good" during Thursday’s workout.

"I don’t feel that I’m at full speed yet," he said.


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--Gary Klein

Photo: Devon Kennard returns an interception against Notre Dame last season. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times