USC linebacker Devon Kennard could only look on helplessly after suffering an injury that sidelined him all of last season.
But the fifth-year senior, among the Trojans’ hardest-working players throughout his career, said this week that his comeback from surgery made him a better player, a better person and gave him even more of an appreciation for playing the sport.
“The game’s not always good to us all -- I’ve learned that the hard way,” he said. “I’m just grateful to be out here every day.”
Kennard’s teammates also appreciate his presence.
On Monday, they voted Kennard a team captain.
Junior linebacker Hayes Pullard, junior receiver Marqise Lee and junior center Marcus Martin also were voted captains as the Trojans continued preparing for Thursday’s opener at Hawaii.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Kennard started his USC career as a defensive end but finished his freshman season as a starting outside linebacker. He played middle linebacker as a sophomore, and then moved back to end as a junior. Last year, he suffered a torn pectoral muscle on the eve of training camp and was forced to redshirt.