One of the most intriguing questions leading to spring practice is where Devon Kennard will best be positioned to play. That question just got more complexed.
For all the noobies, Devon Kennard was the second rated defensive prospect in 2008, but could have been first had he not injured his ACL after his third game of HS ball. ACL injuries as severe as Kennard's takes months of rehab and exercise to fully heal. Thankfully, Kennard was cleared to play for 2009 and even played in the season opener against San Jose State University.
While Kennard's natural position is defensive end, Pete Carroll primarily used him as a strong-side linebacker and played him heavily in the second half of the season. Kennard found a new home at the linebacker position and had a season-high eight tackles in the last game against Arizona. Kennard finished the season with 34 total tackles, 18 were solo, and 4 tackles for loss.
Entering this season, I thought the staff would ask Kennard to practice at the defensive end and SAM position, but the great folks over at SCplaybook.com recently interviewed Kennard about spring practice and revealed surprising news. Kennard was approached by the staff and was given an oppurtunity to play at the middle linebacker position.
I was excited for the news. Kennard is hands down our most talented/athletic linebacker, and it's not even close. Chris Galippo was a workhorse in the first half and really struggled in the second half because he was just tired. Galippo bulked up in the offseason and added weight. I believed that he was the clear cut person for the middle linebacker job, but now that news broke that Kennard is getting a look at middle linebacker, Gallippo now has to prove himself that the position is indeed his.
The middle linebacker position is needle thin. Jarvis Jones' neck injury may be more severe than we thought and could be shut down for the year. Incoming freshman Soma Vainuku will probably start playing the position, a change from fullback. With the new addition of Glen Stanley, who will probably play at SAM, I'm fine with Kennard playing in the middle.