DL coach Kenechi Udeze will not return to USC football staff for 2019

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

On Tuesday, defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze announced his departure from the USC football staff ahead of the 2019 season.

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USC football’s coaching staff officially lost a third assistant on Tuesday morning as defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze announced his departure from the program.

The former Trojan football star and third-year defensive line coach wrote a message to his players, expressing his privilege to have coached them and excitement for the rest of their careers.

“Unfortunately, I will not be here to see it,” Udeze said. “I’d like to thank Coach Helton and his family for my opportunity here. To the Trojan Family know that I will always bleed Cardinal and Gold and I thank you for your support!”

Udeze was a member of USC’s 2003 national title team as an All-American defensive lineman. His resume as a football player was unquestionable, but when he was hired as USC’s defensive line coach in 2016, his coaching resume was more bare.

After three years as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Washington, Udeze served as an assistant defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks. From there two NFL fellowships with the Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills sandwiched a year-long stint as a strength and conditioning assistant at Pitt.

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Udeze joined the Trojan staff in 2015 as an assistant strength and conditioning coach before impressing head coach Clay Helton as a stand-in defensive line coach ahead of USC’s Holiday Bowl appearance. He was given his first full-fledged assistant coaching position after the season.

In 2016, Udeze’s defensive line was stout, anchored by Rose Bowl MVP Stevie Tu’ikolovatu. In 2017, the coach developed All-Pac-12 defensive end Rasheem Green as the Trojans led the nation in sacks. However, in 2018 with a new crop of inexperienced, but talented linemen, the defensive line faltered, struggling to consistently stop the run and unable to generate a pass rush.

Udeze’s departure is likely to be one of many for USC’s staff as Helton looks to bounce back from a disappointing 5-7 season.

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Offensive line coach Neil Callaway was let go during the season while quarterbacks coach Bryan Ellis is reportedly set to take over as Western Kentucky’s new offensive coordinator under former Trojan assistant Tyson Helton.