LOS ANGELES (AP) Former Southern California lineman Kenechi Udeze has been named the Trojans’ defensive line coach.
USC coach Clay Helton announced the promotion Tuesday for Udeze, an assistant strength and conditioning coach at his alma mater last season.
Udeze was an All-American at USC in 2003 and a three-year starter at the beginning of the Trojans’ remarkable run under coach Pete Carroll. The Los Angeles native finished his career with a school-record 28 sacks, 51 tackles for loss and 14 forced fumbles.
He was a first-round draft pick by Minnesota in 2004. Udeze started 47 games over four seasons with the Vikings before he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008, effectively ending his NFL career.
Udeze’s leukemia is in remission, and he earned his USC degree in 2010 while working for Steve Sarkisian as a strength and conditioning coach at Washington.
Udeze worked for Carroll with the Seattle Seahawks and spent a season on the Vikings’ staff before moving to Pitt in 2014 and USC last year under Sarkisian, who was fired in October.
”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.”
Helton fired defensive line coach Chris Wilson and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox in December, shortly after getting the full-time job to replace Sarkisian.