Flashes’ football looking strong after first week of practice


Freshman running back Anthony Meray blocks a tackle as he runs the ball downfield during the Saturday, Nov. 12 game at Infocision Stadium. The Flashes beat the Zips 35-3. File photo by Matt Hafley.

Matt Lofgren

Sounds of helmets cracking, pads clicking and players yelling echoed through the field house Friday as the Kent State football team welcomed their first day of contact with open arms.

Putting an exclamation point on the first week of spring practice, the intensity was through the roof as the Flashes set out for their biggest practice of the spring thus far. Midway through practice, thunder and lightning forced the team indoors, but head coach Darrell Hazell said the team didn’t miss a beat.

“It’s always hard when you transition from outdoors to indoors; changing your shoes and all those things are distractions,” Hazell said. “Those things happen in a game … you have to play through the monsoon and you’ve got to be ready to go when the whistle blows.”

Maturity has been a common talking point of Hazell early this spring, and he says his players are responding much better than they were a year ago. Crediting his opportunity to be with the team during the offseason, Hazell recognizes his team as being more efficient.

“It seems like we have a much better understanding of what we are trying to get, not only scheme-wise but tempo-wise and being on time for things,” Hazell said. “All those little things that you’ve got to coach the first year, you don’t have to put so much emphasis because they are doing them.”

Leaner and Meaner: Trayion Durham slims down.

Listed at 260 pounds last season, sophomore running back Trayion Durham took advantage of the offseason to lose extra weight to prepare for next season. Hazell said Durham is down to 246 pounds, “allegedly.”

With his real weight not known for fact, it is apparent that the 6-foot tall tailback has lost some weight and his coaches have noticed a spurt in his ability to work with the offense.

“I think if he can play around 242 [pounds] to 243 [pounds], that’s probably a good weight for him,” Hazell said. “[Durham] plays a lot faster.”

Hazell immediately perked up at the prospect of getting Durham more involved in the pass game, which Durham has already picked up on quickly.

“Last year in the passing game, he was clueless,” Hazell said. “This year you can tell he has a pretty good grasp of what we are trying to do.”

Hoping to use Durham as both a potent blocker and a receiver out of the backfield, both Hazell and assistant coach Jafar Williams said they believe making Durham into a duel-threat will add an element of intimidation to the offense.

Last season, Durham had just two catches.

But Durham is still young and has a lot of learning to do. Rushing for a team high 644 yards and four touchdowns, he can do a lot for his game with improved foot work.

“I always tell the guys, our footwork is going to give them the best opportunity to make a play,” Williams said. “It’s going to put you in the best relationship with the offensive line if we are going to run zone or if we are going to run draw, so his foot[work] really needs to improve.”

Quarterback Battle Heats Up: Keith v. Fisher.

With just three practices under his belt, it’s no surprise that junior quarterback David Fisher is still trying to get used to the Kent State offense. Looking sound, fundamentally, Fisher moved well in the pocket but still has a lot of learning to do.

“[Fisher] is obviously in his first time here and all these new things, he’s going to be behind,” Hazell said. “Once he figures it out, he’s got a lot of ability.”

Senior quarterback Spencer Keith was in control of the first team offense all day and looked very sharp. By making good decisions and accurate throws, Hazell said he was pleased with last season’s starter in his first week back.

“[Keith] looks very comfortable right now,” Hazell said. “I think he’s seeing things a lot better. He’s slowing the game down, he’s making some good throws, he’s got people in his face a little bit and he’s handled the duress. He’s had three really good practices thus far.”

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected] and @MLofgrenDKS.