Kenechi Udeze will carry the tag of being a last-choice hire, but his excellence as a player and potential as a coach add credibility to his promotion to defensive line coach.
Now that USC’s 2016 coaching staff is complete, it’s time to evaluate each hire from the quality of the coach to the context of the appointment.
This is the ninth in a series diving deeper into the decision-making behind and the consequences of each hire.
Here’s a look at how Udeze’s hiring grades out:
Kenechi Udeze | Defensive Line
Replacing: Chris WilsonPros: Excellence as playerCons: Inexperience
The trouble with grading Kenechi Udeze’s hiring is context.
In the context of USC’s other hires, there is the very real issues of experience. On the back of hiring Clay Helton, a first time head coach, and Tee Martin, a first time offensive coordinator, promoting Udeze as a first time defensive line coach raises eyebrows.
In the context of other options pursued, it is also difficult for Udeze to hold up by comparison. The Trojans reportedly pursued the likes of Ed Orgeron and Tosh Lupoi among others before settling on Udeze. And that’s the primary problem — USC settled on Udeze.
Once that acknowledgement is out of the way, however, Udeze himself stands out as a strong last-choice hire if that is the label he must carry.
Udeze was an All-American at USC and one of the more impressive defensive linemen to put on the cardinal and gold in Trojan history.
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He was a first round draft pick and was on his way to building a solid NFL career before he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008. He beat the cancer but it ultimately claimed his pro career due to long-term side effects of chemotherapy.
Since then he has served as a strength and conditioning coach for the Washington Huskies, Pittsburgh Panthers and USC, a defensive line assistant with the Seattle Seahawks and a coaching fellow for the Minnesota Vikings.
At USC, Udeze covered as defensive line coach during Holiday Bowl prep. His unit was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal Trojan performance.
Known as a task master, Udeze’s inexperience as a position coach does not mean he’ll be a push over. Experience as a top-level player gives him a strong foundation to build on as a coach and recruiter. He will also have Trojan linebackers coach Johnny Nansen, who has years of experience as a defensive line coach on his resume, on hand to help fill the gaps in his knowledge.
Grade: B. Udeze’s hire is rightly questioned on concerns of inexperience, but the performance of the defensive line against Wisconsin and his experience as a player lends him credibility.
- Tee Martin, Offensive Coordinator
- Neil Callaway, Offensive Line
- Tyson Helton, Quarterbacks
- Tommie Robinson, Running Backs
- John Baxter, Special Teams Coordinator
- Clancy Pendergast, Defensive Coordinator
- Ronnie Bradford, Defensive Backs
What say you Trojan fans? How do you grade USC’s hiring of Kenechi Udeze as defensive line coach? Vote in the poll and sound off in the comments below.
How would you grade the Kenechi Udeze hire?