Football getting back to the basics

Ty Sugick

As practice wrapped up on Tuesday morning, head coach Paul Haynes and his staff presented awards to mark the approaching end of spring football.

Early enrollee running back Justin Rankin out of Oberlin, Ohio made the biggest impact on the offensive end during camp as he was dubbed with the Don Nottingham Award. The Nottingham award is given to the player who has made the biggest improvement during the spring.

“In our 15 practices, Justin made a real impact,” Haynes said of Rankin’s performance. “He worked hard off the field in learning a system that is new to him.”

On the defensive side of the ball sophomore linebacker Jim Jones received the Jack Lambert Award as the most improved defensive player during spring. Haynes added that Jim made strides in every practice and “put himself in position for a starting spot.”

Others that received awards were sophomore Theo Eboige and fifth-year seniors Nick Cuthbert and Alex Nielsen for their efforts off and on the field this spring.

The overall focus for the spring session was getting back to the basics and teaching the techniques and fundamentals of the game.

This spring varied from the previous spring sessions under the helm of Haynes, as this year the team did not hold a spring game and decided to rather keep everything internal and just practice and prepare for the upcoming season.

Outside of not hosting a spring game or going to a satellite location training camp like the University of Michigan does, the Flashes stayed in Kent and didn’t put much emphasis on either side of the ball. The team spent the bulk of their time in meeting rooms.

“Not even on the x’s and o’s,” Haynes said. “But on our mindset and chemistry.”

The Flashes also cut down their workouts from previous seasons. Now the team practices about five-to-six days a week for a shorter period of time while trying to keep practices moving as rapidly as the offense looks to move on the field, rather than longer sessions for four days a week. 

“Its been difficult, but this isn’t easy … If we want change, we have to change what are we doing,” Haynes said. The team is seeking to change its fortune and have its first winning season since 2013.

Haynes is excited for what this season holds for the team and feels that they will put out an exciting product. He also added that the guys are working hard on and off the field and that it was a record breaking semester academically for the team’s players. 

During the offseason, Kent State also saw safety Troy Dipre transfer to Minnesota.

The Flashes will finish out their spring practices on March 18, and the season opener is Sept. 3 at Penn State.