As USC prepares for its first road trip of the season, at least one Trojan will feel more comfortable heading to Tempe, Ariz., than the rest.
Junior defensive end Devon Kennard, a graduate of Desert Vista High School in nearby Phoenix has had his sights set on coming home for the past two years.
“I’ve had it on my schedule for a long time,” Kennard said after practice Thursday. “It’s my last opportunity to play in Phoenix. I know a lot of players, a lot of family and friends there, so I’m excited.”
Kennard, who changed positions this season from linebacker to his original defensive end spot at which he was recruited, has yet to record a sack this year. But that does not mean he has not made an impact thus far.
“I’ve played well so far,” Kennard said. “I’ve got a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks and come really close to some sacks. [ASU] throws the ball a lot, so it’ll give me the opportunity to get some sacks.”
As a player at one of the premier athletic high schools in Arizona, Kennard said he was heavily recruited by Sun Devils coach Dennis Erickson but never seriously considered attending Arizona State.
Kennard has recorded nine tackles on the year, splitting time with juniors Wes Horton and Nick Perry at defensive end.
Freshman linebacker Lamar Dawson, who earned the honor of wearing the legendary number 55 jersey, worn by past linebackers such as Junior Seau, Willie McGinest and Keith Rivers, sat out Thursday’s practice with a sprained left ankle. Dawson was in a walking boot, an ominous sign he most will likely miss Saturday’s game in Tempe.
Dawson’s absence would leave the Trojans without their backup middle linebacker.
USC coach Lane Kiffin said if Dawson were to be ruled out, redshirt sophomore Will Andrew and senior Shane Horton would be in the mix to back up senior linebacker Chris Galippo.
Junior left guard Abe Markowitz, who had been the top candidate to start at left guard throughout training camp, will miss the rest of the season after an MRI on Wednesday showed a fractured left foot.
“I’m very disappointed in that,” Kiffin said. “Obviously, it’s an area of concern for us. He was somebody that we were excited about. He’ll have a long rehab to get back.”
Markowitz suffered an injury to his right foot that caused him to miss last year’s first seven games as well as this year’s spring practice.
Markowitz, who has struggled to stay healthy during his career at USC, has only appeared in one game against San Jose State in the Trojans’ home opener in 2009.
The Trojans will likely start freshman Marcus Martin at left guard this week. Martin made his debut last week against Syracuse.