Reardon adjusts to new role in senior season


Fifth-year senior Colin Reardon answers questions from reporters about his switch from quarterback to wide receiver at the Kent State football team’s media day at Dix Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016.

Jimmy Miller

During a postseason meeting last winter, Kent State football team head coach Paul Haynes—along with his assistant coaching staff—asked Colin Reardon, who will enter his fifth season with the Flashes this fall, if he wanted to transfer.

Reardon, who spent much of the 2015 season sharing starting time with now-sophomore teammate George Bollas, instantly turned that idea down.

“I wasn’t insulted; it just kind of threw me off,” Reardon said. “Since coming here five years ago, the guys that are still here have been nothing but Kent State. No matter if things are bad, we’re not leaving this place. We love being here, we love being a part of this program.”

Only three quarterbacks in Kent State’s history have thrown more completions and touchdowns, but Reardon’s not going to throw many passes this season. He might not throw one all year.

During that meeting with coaches, Haynes proposed an idea: switch Reardon to wide receiver, where the former quarterback’s athleticism and leadership could help a young crop of pass-catchers develop.

Reardon took some time over winter break to think about it, but eventually agreed — it’s what was best for the team.

“Now if Colin wasn’t for it, we probably wouldn’t have made the move,” Haynes said. “I give him the ultimate credit. He’ll be a guy I’ll be talking about 20 years from now, talking about the sacrifice that he made for this team.”

Reardon traveled with the team as a redshirt freshman in 2012, watching tailback Dri Archer lead the Flashes to a Mid-American Conference title game berth and an eventual bowl game loss to Arkansas State Unversity.

Reardon took over as the team’s starter in 2013, finishing with the sixth-most passing yards in school history during a single season. But injuries in 2014 and inconsistent play in 2015 resulted in inconsistent time as quarterback over the last two seasons.

Though he still managed to accumulate 2,466 yards in 2014 and a three-touchdown game in 2015, he didn’t start in all 11 games either season.

It was just before this spring Reardon finally gave up the position for good.

A back injury slowed his summer routine, but the team’s coaches praised Reardon’s athleticism.

A graduate of nearby Poland Seminary High School, Reardon was a three-year letter winner in football, basketball and baseball. He passed for 1,100 yards and rushed for nearly 300 more in his senior season.

In basketball, he surpassed 1,000 points by the time he graduated. He even finished as an all-Ohio punter and managed four interceptions on defense in his final season with the Bulldogs.

It’s the technical work in transitioning to receiver that’s challenging for Reardon. For example, receivers coach Doc Gamble said Reardon’s working on his approach at the line of scrimmage, as there’s a different strategy to facing a defensive back playing tight man coverage versus a zone coverage with lots of space to run.

“He knows there’s a big difference between playing quarterback and wide receiver, which sometimes you don’t realize … until you do it,” Gamble said. “He has a better appreciation of the wide receiver’s job now, as opposed to, ‘I’m gonna throw you the football and I expect you to go get it.’”

Reardon said the transition has been easier than he thought, especially given that this is the first season he hasn’t had to learn the entire offense.

Still, learning technique is difficult, and of all the different positions and sports he’s played in his lifetime, he’s never legitimately been a receiver.

“Growing up, I did play backyard football. A lot of times I wouldn’t even play quarterback because my friends wouldn’t let me,” Reardon said. “They couldn’t cover anything I was throwing, so I wasn’t allowed. So, I guess I was running routes in that way.”

The Flashes’ offense finished last in the conference in 2015, and pass catchers only hauled in 1,005 yards, which was also the worst mark in the MAC. Antwon Dixon led the team with just 355 yards receiving.

Haynes said he’s confident Reardon will get opportunities throughout the season.

“We never make a move without a guy who (can’t) be in the mix,” Haynes said.

Freshman quarterback Justin Agner will stand where Reardon once stood, commanding the offense against Big Ten foe Penn State University.

Redshirt freshman Mylik Mitchell, freshman Pat Ford and Bollas will all back up Agner. Haynes said earlier this week that Agner’s starting spot is not set in stone for the rest of the season.

Reardon, who would’ve been entering his final year as quarterback, will catch passes from at least one of those four underclassmen this season—a team sacrifice he’s glad he made.

“Our senior class, a lot of us have been here since 2012, so we know what Kent State football’s all about,” Reardon said. “Making a transition from quarterback to wideout does help because it’s almost like having a second coach. Quarterbacks have to be player-coaches, and I’ve always been in that role.”

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].