Originally posted on Fox Sports West
By RAHSHAUN HAYLOCK  |  Last updated 8/13/13
LOS ANGELES -- You can't touch the quarterbacks during practice, so when Devon Kennard gets to Cody Kessler for a would-be sack, he simply offers a couple of love slaps on the back, all the while kicking and screaming. The "woo's" from No. 42 in the Cardinal jersey serenade Howard Jones Field. Kennard is excited but not overly aggressive, because he has to hold back. Soon enough he'll be able to unleash 13 months of frustration on opposing quarterbacks. It's been that long since Kennard underwent surgery to replace a torn pectoral, which cost him the 2012 season. It's been even longer since he played in an actual game -- Nov. 26, 2011, to be exact, when USC beat UCLA 50-0 at the Coliseum. However, in many ways, missing the 2012 season has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. "You're going to see at the end of this journey how much your life is just going to progress," a prophetic Kevin Greene, Kennard's roommate and teammate, told him last summer. "Both of us, in time, saw that him sitting out was probably a better role for him coming into this next offseason." Multiple Trojans will tell you there isn't one player who's benefited from the new defensive scheme implemented by defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast than DK, as Kennard's teammates call him. "I feel like this is a scheme that's great for me," Kennard said. In his USC career, Kennard has lined up at defensive end, middle linebacker, back to end, and is now a stand up rush end in Pendergast's 5-2 scheme. You can argue not one player has made more plays at USC's training camp. If he's not sacking the quarterback, he's scooping and scoring touchdowns for the defense. If he's not doing that, he's picking off passes. All the while super charging the defense as one of the unit's most looked-to emotional leaders. "It's a blast," Kennard said. "I'm excited to be back on the field with my teammates and try to bring energy everyday. Camp can be a grind after a while so (I) try to be the guy that's bringing energy to the defense. "It was difficult (being out last season). I learned a lot and it humbled me a lot. Coming from where I came from and just all of the trials and tribulations I've gone through, it's just exciting and that's why I have as much energy as I do now because I look at it as a blessing from God to be where I'm at now." Kennard's happiness on the field is evident. The game was taken from him last season, but he says he relied on his faith to get through the tough time. Greene recalls the day his roommate suffered the accident, calling it one of the lowest points he's seen Kennard since the two became teammates at USC in 2009. Following the surgery, Kennard remained positive and visible. He didn't shy away from team activities. He remained present in order to support and uplift teammates in any way that he could. And while he was hoping for a big year in 2012, he's knocking on the door of one in 2013. "I'm very, very impressed with DK," Kessler said. "He came back really strong. "He's that guy have to know where he's at." An official warning from one Pac-12 quarterback to all the rest.
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