In front of friends, family and a swarm of media, Phoenix (Ariz.) five-star defensive end Devon Kennard made his commitment to USC public Tuesday morning from Desert Vista High School.
Becoming the fifth five-star commitment for the Trojans in the 2009 class, Kennard called Tuesday's announcement the toughest decision of his life.
"This was a really tough decision, but I've decided to attend the University of Southern california - I'm a Trojan," said Kennard as he put on a cardinal colored USC hat. "I felt like I needed to step up and be a man with this decision. I'm glad that this is the end and that I'm going to be a Trojan. My family is close and they'll get to see me play.
"USC has great coaches, and I think athletically and academically, it's a school that will give me the best opportunity to succeed," he continued.
With more than 40 scholarship offers by September of his senior year, Kennard narrowed his college options to Arizona State, Cal, Texas, UCLA and USC. Tuesday, he donned a cardinal and gold t-shirt over Longhorn, Bear and Sun Devil apparel.
"I really do want to take the time to thank all of the coaches who took the time to recruit me," said Kennard. "Coach (Tosh) Lupoi at Cal and coach (Bobby) Kennedy at Texas were both awesome. Having to call those coaches and tell them no was really hard.
"They all had a chance to back off my recruitment when I got hurt, but they stayed with me. That means a lot to me, and I'm thankful and honored to have been recruited by those coaches. It was a blessing."
Among other factors, Kennard, who gives the Trojans their third five-star commitment on defense, chose USC for its competitive atmosphere.
"The atmosphere at USC is all about winning," said Kennard. "I'm a competitive person and that's the philosophy Pete Carroll has. He's a defensive minded coach and the environment he has created at USC just pushes you to get better."
The Trojans were considered the front-runner for Kennard's commitment since his junior year, when he had 24.5 sacks and 111 tackles. Taking his time with the recruiting process, unofficial visits and official visits to to Arizona State, Texas and Cal couldn't steal USC's Desert Vista Thunder.
"I planned on committing like three weeks ago," sighed Kennard. "When (Nick) Holt left USC, I had to wait and really look over my options. Out of respect to Cal and Texas, I had great relationships with those coaches.
"I knew SC would make a great hire, but coach Holt was the one that recruited me, he was my defensive coordinator and my defensive line coach. I needed to feel comfortable with Jethro Franklin the way I felt comfortable with the coaches from other school that had been recruiting me all year long."
Franklin, along with newly promoted defensive coordinator, Rocky Seto, sealed the deal for the Trojans on an in-home visit early last week.
"The only thing that changed with USC was my position coach," said Kennard. "They still have a great, attacking scheme at SC, and their plan for me has never changed.
"Coach Franklin is a great coach with a lot of NFL experience. He seems like a really good guy - very personable. My family felt comfortable with him and that put me at ease."
For Kennard, his relationship with each college coach directly affected his growth as a football player and a person.
While some recruits discuss academics with tongue in cheek, Kennard accounted for the educational aspects of USC while holding down a 3.96 GPA.
"All three schools, USC, Texas and Cal offered a great education, and education is something I take seriously," said Kennard. "SC has a great business school and I want to get a degree that will help me provide for my family after football. I know, especially with this injury, that football can be taken away anytime."
Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for more from Devon Kennard's commitment later today!