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September 23, 2008

National Notebook: Kennard out for the year

If you have an award-winning thoroughbred, do you keep him in the stable and not let him run in every race he can? If you have an ace pitcher, do you keep him off the mound in the Game 7 of a World Series because it's not time for his usual turn?

Devon Kennard was injured while playing running back in his team\'s 21-20 victory over Chandler (Ariz.) High.
That's what some recruiting fans are saying Phoenix Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds should have done with star defensive end Devon Kennard.

Kennard, a 6-foot-3, 257-pounder who is the nation's No. 2 player overall and the top defensive prospect in the nation, was injured while playing running back in the final minute of this past Friday's 21-20 victory over Chandler (Ariz.) High. Kennard could miss the rest of the season after he was tackled from behind, which caused his right knee to bend awkwardly.

Hinds confirmed on Tuesday that Kennard's MRI revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. The injury will sideline him for the rest of the season.

The injury has raised a furor, as recruiting fans have flooded message boards asking why Kennard was playing offense. Hinds doesn't have any second thoughts.

"The truth of the matter is it wouldn't be smart as a coaching staff to play him only one way," Hinds told the Arizona Republic newspaper of Phoenix. "The injury had nothing to do with him being tired because he was playing both ways. It was just one of those things.

"The scholarships are going to be there. We had an agreement about using him on offense. He wants the ball and loves running over people. It's the icing on the cake for him after all that he does on defense for us."

Kennard, who is wearing a knee brace, said he is staying positive and would do it the same way again.

"I have always played running back, and I want to do whatever I can to help my team win games," he said. "I don't care what everybody is saying. When I come back, if they want me at running back, I'll be right back out there."

AUBURN SCORES DESPITE LOSS

The weekend wasn't a total loss for the Auburn Tigers. Despite a 26-21 loss to SEC West rival LSU, Auburn was able to score two significant commitments. Hollywood (Fla.) South Broward offensive lineman Steven Jacques and Avon (Ind.) High four-star defensive end Montez Robinson committed to Auburn after official visits.

There were four other official visitors and nearly 200 unofficial visitors on hand for the game.

Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin told AuburnSports.com it was a productive weekend for the Tigers in recruiting. The atmosphere at Jordan-Hare Stadium played a big role in Auburn's success, Franklin said.

"I thought the atmosphere was electric and I think that any young person as well as us old men if you don't get something out of that, something is wrong with you," Franklin said. "All the guys that were here, I'm sure that they did. It was good."

RED RAIDERS HAVE GOOD WEEKEND

Texas Tech hasn't grabbed the early recruiting headlines like Big 12 rivals Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M, but the Red Raiders quietly have put together a solid class. Tech added two quality players over the weekend with commitments from three-star defensive end Kerry Hyder of Austin (Texas) Lyndon B. Johnson and three-star safety Yahshua Williams of Denton (Texas) Ryan.

Williams needed only one official visit to figure out that Lubbock was the place for him. "They beat my expectations by a long shot," he said. "The guys were real genuine. The coaches were real cool people. I got to hang out with the players; they're real cool guys. They follow my career and they could tell me anything about my stats. That was overwhelming, that the guys at the next level were ready for me to come."

ETC.

Three-star wide receiver Diante Jackson of Walnut Creek (Calif.) Las Lomas appears to be narrowing things down. "Arizona State, Washington State, Oregon and Colorado are recruiting me hard right now," Jackson said. "I don't have a favorite, but I do have a top three. In no particular order, my top three are Oregon, Colorado and Arizona State."

Defensive end Will Hill (6-4/260) of Williamsburg (Va.) Lafayette took his first official visit this past weekend, to Tennessee. "It went well even though they lost," Hill said. "I got to hang out with some of the players and coaches. I toured the campus and talked to the academic advisors. I ate pretty well, too. They gave us a good presentation and everything was set up well. It was a pretty good visit."

Three-star offensive lineman Karrington Armstrong (6-2/300) committed to Oregon, as expected, over the weekend. Armstrong, from Reno (Nev.) McQueen, took an official visit to Eugene and despite the Ducks' loss to Boise State, Armstrong was sold. "I like the way Coach (Steve) Greatwood coaches the line," Armstrong said. "The whole offensive line is like a brotherhood, and that's what I was looking for."

Wichita (Kan.) Southeast junior running back Joseph Randle picked up scholarship offers from Miami and Ole Miss over the weekend. He's expecting more offers to come in soon, as Randle is one of the nation's top junior prospects.



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