March 25, 2008

Are you ready for some football?

With eight of 11 returning starters on both offense and defense, much of Kent
State's starting lineup is set. But, when spring practice begins on Wednesday
at Dix Stadium, the Golden Flashes will have plenty of work to do to complete
its starting rotation.


Here's a look at some of the key position battles that will take place
during the 15 spring sessions that conclude on April 19:








QUARTERBACK

Last
season Julian Edelman (left) returned as the starting quarterback,
though he sat out spring drills, and Anthony
Magazu emerged as the clear-cut backup. Thanks to injuries, the Golden
Flashes went through four starting quarterbacks in 2007 and though Edelman
again returns as the starter, he'll have his work cut out for him
this spring to hold on to his job.


In just eight games Edelman threw for 1,318 yards and seven touchdowns.
He also finished second on the team with 455 rushing yards. But, it was
Edelman's tendency to turn the ball over that causes concern. Edelman
threw nine interceptions and fumbled eight times, losing five of them.


While Magazu performed admirably in Edelman's absence-he completed
13 of 27 passes for 190 yards-it's Giorgio Morgan
that likely will push Edelman for the starting role. As a true freshman
Morgan was called into action against Central Michigan and he performed
like a veteran. In that game Morgan completed 18 of 28 passes (64 percent)
for 247 yards and three touchdowns. The next week Morgan was 5 of 8 for
27 yards against Northern Illinois before his season ended with a knee
injury.

OFFENSIVE
LINE

Gone from the offensive line are senior
guards Joe Marafine and Shawn Donaldson, but the Golden
Flashes also lose plenty of depth in seniors Bill Starry, Jon
English and Kiff Kinkead.


Returning three starters will quickly help the Golden Flashes develop
a starting rotation, but for Kent State to be successful, they'll
need several other players to step up and provide depth for a team ranked
second in the Mid-American Conference in rushing yards.


Augustus Parrish (right), who started 11 of 12 games, returns
as the starter at left tackle and Pat Reedy, who rotated with
Travis
McGraw, returns at right tackle. Reedy played in nine games, making
one start. Center Josh Perry, who started all 12 games, also returns.
McGraw, who started 11 of 12 games, likely will move to guard where he'll
be joined by newcomer Mike Roder, a mid-year transfer from Scottsdale
Community College in Arizona.


Providing depth will be a handful of younger players including Dante
Campbell, Aaron Cooper, Mike Fay, Charlie Laster,
Michael Page and Chris Anzevino, who has moved from the
defensive line to center.

DEFENSIVE
BACK

While the Golden Flashes return plenty
of talent and depth at cornerback and safety, they are losing two key players-cornerback
Jack Williams and safety Fritz Jacques. Williams and
Jacques combined to start in 51 games over the past four seasons.


Fortunately for Kent State, many of the returning players have plenty
of game experience. In fact, six different players started at least two
games last season.


At cornerback, Rico Murray (left) returns as the most seasoned player.
He started 11 of 12 games and finished third on the team in tackles with
75. He also picked off a pass. Murray likely will hold down one of the
cornerback spots while Kirk Belgrave (started 2 of 11 games played)
and Danny Sadler (started 2 of 12 games played) will battle for
the other spot. Sadler recorded 31 tackles while Belgrave posted 24. Redshirt
freshman Sam Kirkland likely will push for playing time.


When Jacques went down with a knee injury last season, the Golden Flashes
gained some valuable experience at the safety position. Redshirt freshman
Brian Lainhart already held down one of the safety spots and classmate
Dan Hartman was then called into action. Hartman started three
of 11 games played. Freshman Will Johnson also moved into the
rotation late in the year; he started four of eight games played including
the final three regular season contests.


Lainhart finished fifth on the team in tackles with 63 stops while Hartman
contributed with 35 and Johnson with 27.


It also wouldn't be surprising to see Murray split time between
corner and safety.


The Golden Flashes are expected to practice each Monday, Wednesday, Friday
and Saturday until April 19. All practices are closed to the public. Stay tuned
to KentSportsReport.com for daily updates from practice and more!




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