The BCS title aspirations of the University of Southern California Trojans took a hit with the news that senior defensive end Devon Kennard tore his pectoral muscle during weight-training. While the extent of the tear will not fully be known until he undergoes surgery to repair the injury, rehabilitation of torn pectoral muscles typically take at least two to three months and puts Kennard in danger of missing the entire 2012 season.
The 6-3, 260 pound Kennard was expected to take over the starting RDE position that was manned by Nick Perry a season ago. Perry was selected by the Green Bay Packers with the No. 28 overall pick of April's draft. Having started 18 games over his career and racked up 135 tackles, he was among the most battle-tested of a Trojans' defensive line that many felt was one of the few areas of concern for Lane Kiffin's team.
Athletic and versatile, Kennard appeared poised to enjoy a similar breakout season as Perry after being rotated among several positions throughout the early stages of his career. He'd seen time at both outside linebacker and defensive end as a true freshman, earning five starts and registering 34 tackles, including two tackles for loss. He was moved to middle linebacker as a sophomore, starting the first eight games of the season and posting 72 tackles, including seven for loss.
Kennard was moved back to defensive end a year ago. He started five games and played in all 12, posting 29 tackles, including four tackles for loss and the first two sacks of his career -- one of which resulted in a safety (vs. Washington).
While far from the stats-monster that Perry (54 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in 2011 alone) was for the Trojans, there was quiet optimism that Kennard would take his game to another level in 2012. With 18 career starts under his belt, he was second behind fellow defensive end Wes Horton (22 starts) as USC's most experienced defensive linemen. Behind Horton and Kennard, USC's most experienced defensive lineman is redshirt sophomore defensive tackle George Uko, who enters the 2012 campaign with just two career starts.
Kennard is expected to be replaced by junior college transfer Morgan Breslin, as well as junior Kevin Greene and redshirt freshman Greg Townsend, Jr.
Kennard has not yet taken a redshirt season during his career at USC and therefore will have the option of doing so and returning to the field for the Trojans in 2013. He'd ranked just outside of the top five NFL prospects for the Trojans as graded by NFLDraftScout.com and had been listed as a potential sixth round pick and the 21st overall defensive end prospect for the 2013 NFL draft.