Meeting face-to-face with the nation’s No. 1 DE is a scary proposition for any lineman, but Inside Texas met one-on-one with Desert Vista’s Devon Kennard on Saturday — for an interview, thankfully, and not on the football field — while Kennard was in Austin for Texas’ spring game and discussed how he became so interested in Texas, his thoughts on the visit, what his plans are and much more.
Mack Brown hadn’t met Devon Kennard, hadn’t seen him in person and he had no family connections to the Texas.
Yet, on Signing Day 2008, Brown mailed out to Kennard an offer for a full scholarship to the University of Texas. It was a departure from the the way Brown typically handles out-of-state recruiting, but it’s worth making Kennard an exception.
On the football field, the 6-3, 230-pound Kennard racked up 111 tackles and 24.5 sacks last season for Desert Vista, dominating essentially every opponent he faced. Off the football field, he has a GPA of 3.96, receiving only a single ‘B’ in high school — which was an 89.7 that wasn’t rounded up.
Saturday, Kennard and his brother Derek, who is also Devon’s defensive line coach, made their way to Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium to watch the Longhorns play their annual spring game. While he was in Austin, Inside Texas met face-to-face with Kennard to discuss his recruitment:
Inside Texas: What inspired (you and your brother) to come out here to Austin?
Devon Kennard: The tradition here, I mean, it’s big-time football and I want to be a part of that. I’ve got to take a long look at a school like this and see what they’re all about and see if it’s a situation where I can come and be a part of.
IT: About how many schools are you thinking about taking a long look at like you are at Texas?
Kennard: There’s a lot of schools as of now. The list will soon be shrinking. I’ve got to start paying attention to what schools I really like and everything, but right now I’m open and I plan on taking some visits in the summer, some unofficials, just checking some schools out. This (visit) definitely sets the bar high for those other schools.
IT: How the did the whole process of you getting hooked up with Texas start, because I know you know (Blaine) Irby and his brother…
Kennard: Yeah, my brother is friends with his older brother (Brian Irby). Me and Irby went to rival schools. We never played against each other, but, just with that history, we clicked right away and he’s a good guy and he introduced me to some of the other players and they’re real welcoming and I like that, coming from another state.
IT: So he’s trying to get you to come to Texas?
Kennard: Not really. He’s just a friend and he’s not pressuring me. He wants me to do what’s best for me because that’s what he did. So he’s just showing me what Texas is about. If I like it, I like it. If I don’t, I don’t. So far it seems pretty cool, but I’ve got to check some other schools out also.
IT: What are your thoughts on this whole spring game atmosphere?
Kennard: It’s awesome. I mean, that’s a lot of fans out there just to watch the spring game, watching them beat up on each other. I’m loving the whole atmosphere and the coaches are great and it’s a good situation.
IT: What’s the Texas coaching staff like to work with in the recruiting process? How much pressure do they apply?
Kennard: They don’t put any pressure. They’re like, “If you like us, come. If you don’t, we understand.” That’s one of the first things they said and I can appreciate that. They’re out here showing me a good time and everything and if I feel it’s right for me, they want me to come and if I don’t, they understand that too and I think that’s really important. That’s cool.
IT: Ok, this past season you had 111 tackles and 24 and a half sacks. Do you remember any other statistics?
Kennard: I averaged, offensively, like eight yards per carry [Note: Kennard also plays fullback for Desert Vista]. I had tons of batted down passes, at least 20 of those in this season.
IT: That’s quite a set of statistics. Still, you ever argue with this guy (pointing to Derek) about whether or not you should have gotten another or sack or a half sack?
Kennard: (Laughter) Oh, he’s thinks I should have gotten ten more. I probably could have. There’s things I’ve got to correct this off-season, coming up this summer, and I plan on putting on a show.
IT: What do you think is the greatest strength you have on the football field and what is it that you want to improve the most?
Kennard: I want to improve in every aspect, to be honest. I’m out here trying to get faster, because when I start working moves this summer with my brother, I don’t want to work with the same speed I had this previous year. I want to have a new speed, some new abilities so when I come out breaking moves, it’s totally different from last year. My identity should be changing a bit with some new talents I’m going to be bringing to the table.
IT: So what’s the plan from here?
Kennard: Train hard, see what I feel, visit some schools and I think I’ll feel where I want to go when it’s time.