Josh Cribbs to reign as parade Grand Marshal


Screenshot of Kent State graduate and three-NFL Pro Bowler Josh Cribbs announcing he will be the 2016 Homecoming Parade Grand Marshal set for Oct. 1 in a YouTube video posted by the Kent State University Alumni Association on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016. 

Rachel Duthie

This is Josh Cribbs’ first homecoming.

Despite the Kent State alum and three-time NFL Pro Bowler playing in Homecoming football games throughout his high school and college career, Cribbs has never felt like he has had a ‘real’ Homecoming experience. He had always been too focused on his sport.

So when the athlete was announced as this year’s Homecoming Parade Grand Marshal, he could barely contain his excitement.

“I am extremely honored,” Cribbs said. “Kent State is where I started my life. I met my wife here, started my family here, I played football here — which gave me the chance to play in the NFL — and I earned my (bachelor’s) degree in communications from Kent State. This place is a very important part of my life, and I can’t wait to be in the parade.”

Cribbs will serve as the 35th alum of Kent State’s long-held tradition of selecting Homecoming Parade Grand Marshals to serve as the centerpiece figure of the Homecoming weekend.

The tradition began when alum and former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Paul Warfield and his wife, Beverly, were named the university’s very first grand marshals in 1981.

The ceremonial title was made to be given to an alumnus or alumna who students and faculty alike would want to recognize and lead the homecoming parade.

“The title goes to one who exemplifies superior qualities of leadership and a strong dedication to Kent State University and the community,” said Joy Wesoloski, assistant director of alumni relations. “We have had local alumni like Charlie Thomas, the owner of Ray’s Place in Kent, to this year’s Grand Marshal, Josh Cribbs, a former Cleveland Browns player.”

The process of selecting the grand marshal starts with the Homecoming Steering Committee. Comprised of Kent State staff from all university departments, members develop a list of Kent State alumni they would like to serve in this role and then, after organizing scheduling and availability, narrow down the title to one or two alum.

Choosing a grand marshal is “neither hard or easy, but a lot of fun,” said Laura Andrews, assistant director of marketing relations for the Kent State Alumni Association. “The process can take up to half a year to determine viable candidates.”

As for choosing Cribbs, the choice was clear.

“(Cribbs) is a superior leader and advocate for both Kent State University and the community,” Wesoloski said. “He has made highly visible contributions that have had a lasting impact.”

One of Cribbs’ most notable accomplishments was his induction into the the Kent State Varsity “K” Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011 for his athletic success and leadership. He serves as the all-time total offense leader in school history with 10,839 yards and holds records in rushing touchdowns, touchdown scores, single-season completions and single-season completion percentage, according to a press release by the university. Cribbs was drafted as a free agent for the Cleveland Browns in 2005.

“Playing at Kent State were the best four years of my life,” Cribs said. “Some of my best memories playing football came right here at Kent State. Playing in the Wagon Wheel each year with (The University of) Akron will always stand out. We had some great battles in those games.”

After his eight-year stint with the Browns, Cribbs started an elite youth flag football league to raise awareness of concussions in contact sports. The idea of it is to teach children the fundamentals of the sport without the hitting often accompanied with football.

“He is an amazing advocate for the school and alumni association, a positive role model, and he is continually involved in the community,” Andrews said. “He is a great leader, tenacious and generous.”

Cribbs will be attending the parade on Saturday, followed by a meet-and-greet at the new Center for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement. He will also be a part of the coin toss during the Battle of the Wagon Wheel game against Akron later in the afternoon.

The Homecoming parade begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Rachel Duthie is a features correspondent, contact him at rduthie@kentedu.