USC senior Devon Kennard, who sat out last season after having surgery to repair a torn chest muscle, is comfortable in the "52" defense that enables him to play an end-linebacker hybrid position.
"I love the versatility," Kennard said.
Several defensive linemen have said the 6-3, 255-pound Kennard is a leader. Kennard has started at end, outside linebacker and middle linebacker.
"It really is his natural position," Coach Lane Kiffin said of a spot that enables Kennard to rush the passer or drop into coverage.
Kiffin anticipates that Morgan Breslin, 6-2 and 250 pounds, also will excel in the hybrid role.
"They're not big ends," he said of Kennard and Breslin. "They're kind of tweener guys. It's been a really good match."