Devon Kennard

USC linebacker Devon Kennard was one of four Trojans players to be voted team captains on Monday. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times / April 14, 2012)

USC linebacker Devon Kennard could only look on helplessly after suffering an injury that sidelined him all of last season.

But the fifth-year senior, among the Trojans’ hardest-working players throughout his career, said this week that his comeback from surgery made him a better player, a better person and gave him even more of an appreciation for playing the sport.

“The game’s not always good to us all -- I’ve learned that the hard way,” he said. “I’m just grateful to be out here every day.”

On Monday, they voted Kennard a team captain.

Junior linebacker Hayes Pullard, junior receiver Marqise Lee and junior center Marcus Martin also were voted captains as the Trojans continued preparing for Thursday’s opener at Hawaii.

The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Kennard started his USC career as a defensive end but finished his freshman season as a starting outside linebacker. He played middle linebacker as a sophomore, and then moved back to end as a junior. Last year, he suffered a torn pectoral muscle on the eve of training camp and was forced to redshirt.

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