January 11, 2009

Kennard still struggling with decision

Devon Kennard thought he could put things on cruise control.

The five-star defensive end had narrowed his focus to a few schools - USC, Texas and Cal - and had completed his run of official visits. Now, it was time for Kennard to simply sort through his options and make the best choice before giving a commitment, possibly as early as last week.

But, as tends to happen in the world of recruiting, Kennard was thrown a curve recently when Southern Cal went through a shake-up in its defensive coaching staff, elevating secondary coach Rocky Seto to defensive coordinator and hiring Jethro Franklin for a second stint as the program's defensive line coach.

When that news went public earlier this week, it forced Kennard to take a step back. The Phoenix Desert Vista product was closing in on his final decision, but he now has to go through more evaluations of each program and try to get a feel for the new-look USC staff. Kennard, who did talk to Franklin on the phone last week, said recently that his plan is to meet with the Trojan coaches in person in the next two weeks (as well as another visit with the Texas staff at either his school or home), and a decision could be pushed back until signing day if necessary.

"When everything was solid with USC, I had everything on the table that I needed and I was hoping to decide relatively soon. Now with that situation, I've come this far so there's no point in not looking at everything," Kennard said. "I have to meet the coaches see what it's all about.

Fans of all three of his finalists have been hanging on Kennard's every word and action, hoping to get an idea on what the 6-foot-3, 257-pound talent will eventually do. For his part, Kennard said he does not want to force the issue, and when it does come time to make that final call he wants to know that he's done every bit of research possible.

"When I make my decision, I want to know that I looked at everything," said Kennard. "If I go to Texas, USC or Cal, I'll know I looked at everything. I've waited this long throughout the process, why commit until cards are on the table?"

Some Longhorn fans were gnashing their teeth last week when Kennard did an in-home with USC head coach Pete Carroll on Monday instead of venturing out to take in the Texas-Ohio State match-up in the Fiesta Bowl. Those worries are unfounded, Kennard said.

"You know I TiVo'd the game, come on now. Coach Mack Brown already got inside the house. USC as well as Texas, needed to get that done," Kennard said. "It would have been cool to go to the game, but it's not like Texas could get me tickets. It was more of a business decision. The game was awesome but I want to get this done so I need to do my in-homes.

"As soon as I could get (Carroll) out, he was willing to come that Monday. I had nothing going on and I was still trying to figure out how to get tickets. I've seen Texas play, I've seen them practice. It would have been cool to go, don't get me wrong, but I knew I could watch it on TV and still take care of some business."

The goal for the nation's top-ranked defensive end is still to arrive at a decision as soon as possibly - Kennard admits that he's ready put some closure on this chapter of his life and move on - but he could hold off on making an official announcement until national signing day.

"I want to know before signing day if possible. But if it's close to signing day before I know, I may wait to announce," Kennard said. "Nothing will happen next week because it's dead period. After that week, all cards will be out again and you could see a decision then."

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