Kyle Kennard won me over with his performance during the final three games of the 2020 campaign and cemented my excitement during Georgia Tech’s Spring Game. Last year, he appeared in 6 games and started in the aforementioned final three. He had only 10 total tackles, but 2.5 of those were for a loss, and he provided an explosive pop off the edge that GT has continually been missing for years now.
Coming out of high school, he was rated as a 5.6 3 star by Rivals and an 86.14 3 star in the 247 Composite; he showed great explosive potential, but his size left questions. He arrived at GT with only 215 pounds on his 6-5 frame, but he was listed at 235 pounds at the end of the spring and should only continue to add bulk over the next year or two.
As Georgia Tech’s defensive end rotation suffered more and more attrition as the year went on, Kennard saw his playing time increase accordingly. Against NC State, he took advantage of his most playing time of the season to date and contributed 1.5 sacks. Here, you can see him playing his assignment perfectly on a play-action drop back and being rewarded with a clear path to the quarterback for a sack.
In the season finale against Pitt, the GT defense struggled overall with Pitt’s physicality, but Kennard was one of the lone bright spots. He had an excellent pass rush and pass breakup to halt Pitt’s opening drive inside the 10. On the final play of the first half, you can see him combining his peed and physicality to drive by Pitt’s right tackle and finish the half with a sack.
Kennard’s impressive end of the year carried over into the spring . Speaking of Kennard and fellow 2020 newcomer Jared Ivey in mid April, Coach Marco Coleman said, “They have gotten off to a really good start in the spring. They’re still freshmen and they still have big strides to make to have an even bigger impact this season.” Kennard kept showing flashes of those strides, and he capped things off with 3 quarterback pressures during the spring game. He looked explosive coming off the edge, and I expect him to be a fixture when the defense faces passing downs this fall and in the years to come.