UM's Kemp strives to meet tough Pagano uncles' standards

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Carlo Kemp

Ann Arbor — The advice John and Chuck Pagano have given their nephew Carlo Kemp, a Michigan defensive lineman, would crush most.

Chuck Pagano is coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and John Pagano is a Raiders assistant.

“The best advice I’d say from both my uncles is they said they would not draft me,” Kemp said Tuesday night after practice. “That’s been the greatest thing. Always working to hopefully change their minds one day.”

Kemp, who backs up Rashan Gary, said he respects what a high bar his uncles have set.

“I come from a family of a lot of tough love and earning love and earning respect and wearing your name with pride,” Kemp said. “They’re two great people. There’s a lot of joking, but there’s also a lot of seriousness when they said that.”

Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison praised Kemp during preseason camp, especially for performing well despite having a large cast — a club — on his broken right hand. He broke it the first week in camp on a pass rush.

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“I got it jammed up in the shoulder pads (of Juwann Bushell-Beatty) and I’ve been wearing the club and now I’m back to," Kemp said. "I’ve got my fingers and my thumb out now. Every day’s a blessing.

“This is a lot better. I used to have the club, and I just had a left hand. Now, getting my fingers I can actually grab stuff now. This has been the best thing.”

He never jokingly used the club as a weapon in practice.

“I’d never go out there and just start swinging the club like that,” he said. “I didn’t want anyone else to experience what I was going through because that’s frustrating.”

Kemp is right-handed, so writing became an adventure.

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“I just had to learn this left hand which was a struggle,” Kemp said. “It was pretty bad. Looked like a lot of scribbling. A lot of open interpretations on my notes for Florida. They were a little scribbly.”

By working to change the opinions of his uncles and to achieve personal goals, Kemp has become a solid backup to Gary.

“Depth is big for us and building depth, and you want to make sure when the starters come out they feel confident that the person that’s going in behind them is going to succeed and do what we’re supposed to do on the field,” he said. “For me, I know when Rashan comes out I want him to feel he can go get his breather. That way when he goes back in he can do what we all know he can do at the highest level without being exhausted because he has to play the whole game.”


Twitter: @chengelis