Film Session: Devon Kennard

Devon Kennard

Devon Kennard's high school career ended last Friday night when he tore his ACL, but the Texas target, who should recover by next season and whose Longhorn offer still stands, was injured late enough in the game to still give plenty of highlights. Inside Texas' Ross Lucksinger breaks down Kennard's film from the game and what we can expect to see from him in college.

Click below to follow along in the video as we break it down:

00:14 Chandler motions a tight end over to help the left tackle with Kennard. This has been a common sight for Kennard this season, but despite that additional blockers he's able to see through traffic and track down the runner. His main strength, in my opinion anyway, is his ability to work his way through multiple blockers and track down the football. He's a strong bull-rusher as well, but his best skill is working through traffic.

00:24 Desert Vista on offense. Working as the tailback, Kennard carries the ball for a nine-yard gain. Last season, Kennard was primarily a fullback and was an effective lead blocker. This year, he was turned into a halfback and the Desert Vista coaches let him loose like a 6-3, 255-pound steam engine. Reminds me a lot of the single-back Purdue would run when they had Mike Alstott. Or Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas with Sergio Kindle. Kennard's aforementioned vision helps him work through traffic on offense as well, as you see here.

00:31 Back on defense. This is a bit of a change for Kennard. For the most part, he's just played as a hand-in-the-dirt, straight-up defense end in high school. But this season he was often in more of a stand-up position, which is a new wrinkle for him. Out of his top five schools, both Texas and Cal are recruiting Kennard as more of a stand-up rusher (Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp envisions Kennard in the 'Buck' position Brian Orakpo plays), while USC, UCLA and Arizona State are recruiting him as a much more traditional defensive end. This is an option play and Kennard doesn't make the tackle, instead sticking to his assignment, the quarterback, whom he crushes.

00:42 Kennard isn't circled on this play, but he's once again in a linebacker-like role. He steps inside the right defensive end and then outside before the ball is snapped to disguise his blitz and flies through untouched for the tackle. As you can see on this play, Kennard has exceptional acceleration.

00:59 At linebacker again. Stays inside the right end this time and goes through nearly untouched. Misses on the tackle but manages to keep the running back in the backfield so his teammates can get the tackle for a loss. An area for Kennard to work on is his wrap-up tackling. For example, when sacking the quarterback, Kennard has a tendency to grab with his hands and spin the QB around, as opposed to using a proper wrap-up. Now keep in mind, he is a very good tackler and it's not a weakness, per say, just an area for him to work on to ensure he doesn't miss any.

01:11 Lined up at left defensive end. This is a just breakdown in blocking assignments. The right tight end motions to the left and the right tackle, instead of picking up the outer-most defender, crashes down on the defensive tackle, making the quarterback easy prey for Kennard.

01:21 Back on offense. Kennard is wrapped up from behind, but manges to carry a pair of defenders four more yards because he does a good job of churning his legs. Tall running backs, like Kennard, can sometimes have trouble making quick cuts because of how long their strides are, but Kennard is good at chopping his feet in traffic.

01:29 Another off-tackle carry. Cuts outside when he should have cut up, but not a big concern since he'll be playing defense in college.

Summary: Devon Kennard is unanimously considered by all major recruiting services to be the No. 1 defensive end in the nation and it's easy to see why. He's explosive off the snap and has a great nose for the football.

One of the concerns about his ACL tear is how much it will slow him down. Two of his best physical attributes are his acceleration and his quickness. But even if he's unable to return to full speed (which, theoretically, he should be able to), he'll still be a force in college because of his exceptional vision and strength.

It's also worth noting the he has a spectacular academic record, including a 3.96 GPA, and should be a great student for whichever institution lands him, regardless of his on the field success.

For more on Kennard, see: Kennard Makes a Trip to El Paso; Kennard Reports on USC/Ohio State Game; Devon Kennard's MRI Results Are In

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