Kennard returning home as Trojan for final time

BY foxsports • September 26, 2013

LOS ANGELES – Devon Kennard is a much different player since the last time he returned home to play in front of family and friends in USC's last visit to Arizona State.

If you ask him, he'll tell you he's "faster, bigger, stronger, quicker …smarter too" since the last time he played in Tempe. 

Kennard, who hails from Phoenix's Desert Vista High School, remembers it not being a very pleasant night. USC turned the ball over four times in a 43-22 loss to the Sun Devils.

The USC defense didn't force a single turnover and Kennard remembers his individual performance not being one he was happy about.

"I didn't make as many plays as I would have hoped," said Kennard, who finished with three tackles on that late September night in 2011. 

In his final return to Tempe as a USC Trojan, Kennard will walk into Sun Devil Stadium as one of the leaders of the nation's fourth ranked defense.

In a defense that has made a name for itself as being versatile through four games, there may not be a player that personifies that more than Kennard, who is one of four players on the USC roster who hail from Arizona.

It took first-year defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast all of a week of spring practice to realize how versatile Kennard could be for his new scheme both mentally and physically.

He's third on the team in sacks with three. He's tied for team lead in hurries (3), second in pass breakups (3), and fourth in passes defended (3). He also owns the defense's only fumble recovery of the season.

"I can't imagine someone playing better than he is," head coach Lane Kiffin said. "He's been a dominant force out there on the outside rather it's against backs, tight ends, tackles, whoever it is. His film right now is really elite level film what he's putting on tape so it's great to see." 

Kennard says he's expecting a lot of friends and family to be in the stands on Saturday. It's safe to say he's wants to have a bigger impact than he did in his last visit to Tempe and a better outcome for his team. Still, like any other game, he's taken a workman-like approach.

"I try not to put too much emphasis on any game," he said. "I can't lie and say I'm not excited to be able to play in front of my home city for the last time, but I'm keeping calm and keeping it business as usual."

His approach is similar to that of his defensive coordinator. It's a homecoming for defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast as well. He's a graduate of Tolleson High School, which is just shy of 20 miles outside of Tempe. He also spent six seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals, including during their 2008 NFC Championship season.

He says he's expecting 15-20 family and friends in attendance on Saturday night.

"It's just another game," Pendergast said. "I coached a lot of games there.

"It'll be fun to go home and coach in front of family and friends, but the game is most important."

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