Kenechi Udeze, former All-American defensive end, was officially hired by USC football as the Trojans new defensive line coach.
Clay Helton officially announced the hiring of new USC defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze Tuesday, completing his coaching staff with just over a week until Signing Day.
“There are times in your career when you meet someone and just know that they are going to be a superstar in the profession,” Helton said. “Kenechi is that person. I was blown away by his attention to detail with technique and fundamentals in our recent bowl game preparation and in the interview process. His knowledge of the game is something that is going to be critical to the development of our young defensive line. Kenechi is a Trojan to the core and his passion for USC is felt by all.”
Udeze was a consensus All-American and first round draft pick as a defensive lineman at USC. He was hired by the Trojans last January as an assistant strength and conditioning coach on Steve Sarkisian’s staff.
Though Udeze handled coaching duties for the unit during USC’s Holiday Bowl prep, this is his first opportunity as a designated defensive line coach.
That short stint at least yielded dividends, as the Trojan defensive front was one of the few positive takeaways from a less-than-stellar USC performance against the Wisconsin Badgers.
Prior to returning to Los Angeles, Udeze built his resume with a year as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Pitt. He did a year in the Minnesota Viking coaching fellowship program after spending a season as an assistant defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks.
Sarkisian gave Udeze his first coaching job at Washington as an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Huskies from 2009 to 2012 after his NFL retirement.
Udeze proved his fierceness as a stand-out defensive lineman in college, earning the nickname “Big Kenechi Udeze,” but the circumstances surrounding his NFL career established his impressive fortitude.
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After four years as a regular starter with the Vikings, Udeze was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008. When the disease went into remission, he attempted an NFL comeback but ultimately retired in 2009 due to the long-term effects of chemotherapy.
Udeze replaces Chris Wilson, who was fired after the Pac-12 Championship game along with defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and defensive backs coach Keith Heyward.
USC’s staff now stands complete with Helton as head coach and his nine assistants — offensive coordinator Tee Martin, quarterbacks coach Tyson Helton, running backs coach Tommie Robinson, offensive line coach Neil Callaway, defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford, linebackers coach Johnny Nansen, defensive line coach Udeze and special teams coordinator John Baxter.