With commitment behind him, top DE Kennard focusing on knee
Top DE prospect Devon Kennard commits to USC, focusing on knee rehab
Pete Carroll found a new way to communicate with fans, players: Twitter
After title, Florida is losing recruits who fear the stocked depth chart
Devon Kennard gets one question (So, where are you going to college?) as frequently as he does the other (How's the knee?). On Tuesday morning, the star defensive end from Desert Vista High in Phoenix answered one of those questions definitively.
Kennard, the son of former Dallas Cowboys center Derek Kennard, committed to USC at a school assembly. Now, he can return to answering the second question.
Kennard tore the ACL and damaged cartilage in his right knee when he was tackled awkwardly while playing running back in the final minute of Desert Vista's 21-20 win over Chandler on Sept. 19. Since, the 6-foot-3, 257-pound Kennard has worked to rehab the knee so next season he can prove why Rivals.com ranked him the nation's best defensive end and -- even after the injury -- still ranks him the No. 8 overall prospect in the country.
Kennard believes the injury won't have any long-term effects. In fact, he says being forced to sit out most of his senior season only motivated him more. "It's making me better," Kennard said earlier this month at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. "It's making me work even harder. I'm bouncing back."
And while a recruit of his stature could have hidden the details of his rehab for fear of losing scholarship opportunities, Kennard said he always updated college coaches on his progress. "I'm open with it," he said. "Before they even ask, I tell them. These are guys who might possibly be coaching me. I have nothing to hide."
Kennard is proud of his rehab. Tom Carter, the surgeon who repaired Phoenix Suns star Amare Stoudemire's knee in 2005, performed his reconstructive surgery. Brother Derek Jr., a personal trainer who played his college ball at Nevada, has supervised much of his rehab.
Kennard said the average rehab time for his injury is six months, so he expects to be back to full speed soon. That way, USC will get a player ready to contribute when he arrives this summer.
"My six-month mark is mid-March," Kennard said. "Once I get there, then the rest of the time until I report will just be training at 100 percent."
Carroll still an early adopter
Last year in this space, we profiled Pete Carroll's Facebook page/USC recruiting poster. Last week, the winningest coach in Division I-A during the past five years got even more techno-geeky.
Now, recruits and dedicated USC fans can learn -- in 140 characters or less -- that USC's official visitors lunched at the ESPN Zone this past weekend and that on Sunday, the mercury hit 75 degrees in southern California. (As we learned last week from Florida State coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher, announcing a warm temperature on a January day might help land skill-position players.) NCAA rules forbid Carroll from using Twitter or Facebook to communicate with recruits, but that's beside the point. He is communicating the way his target audience communicates, and that can only help.
As an official Old Guy -- I'm 30 -- I'd heard of Twitter, but I usually responded to any reference to the service with a sentence that included the word "dangfangled." It seemed like a faster Facebook status update. In other words, another way for people to keep their friends current on what they ate for breakfast or how long their toddlers napped. But after seeing Carroll was updating his Facebook status via Twitter, I figured I needed to learn more. So I read this New York Times story and signed up for my own account. Now I, along with the other 691 people who follow Carroll, can find out where USC recruits are eating lunch.
My Twitter foray may benefit you as well. Tuesday, we'll try a little experiment. Sign up to follow andy_staples, and I'll send out a dangfangled tweet after Hampton, Va., quarterback Tajh Boyd (scheduled press conference at 5 p.m. Tuesday) announces his college choice.