Flashes football announces 25 additions to the team

AJ Atkinson

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2012 recruits

C.J. Brathwaite

RB. 5’7″. 185. West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield

Prior to Kent State:

  • Ran for 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior

  • Named team MVP in 2011

  • Named a Michigan Blue Chip Athlete by the Detroit Free Press

  • Also played slot receiver and returned kickoffs during his high school career. 

    “C.J. has unbelievable lateral quickness and unbelievable strength,” Hazell said.  “He breaks a lot of tackles, leaves a lot of guys grasping for air because of his great quickness and superb vision.”

    James Brooks


    WR. 5’10″. 200. Groveland, Fla./South Lake

    Prior to Kent State:

  • Offensive MVP at Elite Scouting Services Combine prior to senior year

  • Named standout performer by Rivals.com at Tallahassee Nike Camp in Summer 2011

  • Transferred to South Lake from Forest High School (Ocala, Fla.) following junior year

  • Threw for 645 yards as a senior and also played receiver, finishing with 41 catches for 537 yards and 15 total touchdowns

  • Also competed in track & field.

    “Quick, lightning quick,” Hazell said.  “Has the ability to make people miss before and after the catch.  He’s got great hands and great ball skills.”

    Denzell Burton

    LB. 6’1″. 205. Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville

    Prior to Kent State:

  • Helped Glenville to four Senate League titles and a Division I state championship game appearance in his junior year

  • Was a Senate League All-Star and team captain as a senior

  • Finished with 200 career tackles, 10 sacks and two interceptions

  • Also ran for 450 yards and six touchdowns

  • Played basketball at Glenville

    “He’s a very superb kid,” Hazell said.  “They played him at defensive end out of necessity, but he’s going to play linebacker for us.  A guy that has great range and runs sideline-to-sideline.  He has the ability to make big plays for us.”

    Charles Chandler

    WR. 6’3″. 185. Columbus, Ohio/St. Francis DeSales

    Prior to Kent State:

  • First team All-Central District selection in 2011

  • Led the Stallions with 609 receiving yards and five touchdowns as a senior

  • Also recorded 17.5 tackles and four interceptions in 2011 as a defensive back

  • All-District, honorable mention All-State and All-Central Catholic League selection

  • Also lettered three years in basketball.

    “Charles is a bigger receiver. He goes up and attacks the football.  He plays way outside of his body, which means he has tremendous range.  He has the ability to make the tough catch, but also the ability to break a tackle with his big frame.”


    Kyle Crum

    TE. 6’5″. 210. Minerva, Ohio/Minerva

    Prior to Kent State:

  • All-county, All-league, All-District and honorable mention all-state selection as a senior

  • Recorded 81 receptions for 1,494 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011

  • 29 receptions for 599 yards as a junior

  • Set single-game receiving record in first varsity start

  • Led Minerva to an undefeated season in 2011 (10-0)

  • Also lettered in track for four years

  • State runner up in long jump in Spring 2011.

    “They detached him a lot from the formation because he could create matchups on safeties. He’s very fast, good ball skills, able to run after the catch and he’s got an unbelievable career as a tight end here. He’s very athletic, makes one handed catches, has great body control and plays extremely well.”


    Matthew Dellinger

    LB. 6’2″. 205. Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston

    Prior to Kent State

  • Recorded 85 tackles, three interceptions, three blocked field goals and five forced fumbles as a senior in 2011 as a All-OAA Red Division selection

  • Earned All-OAA Red Division and All-Area Honorable Mention as a junior in 2010, while recording 70 tackles and 370 yards as a slot receiver

  • Three-year letter winner in football and four years in basketball.

    “Matt’s a very instinctive, fast linebacker who scrapes from tackle to tackle and makes plays all over the places,” Hazell said. “Matt is a phenomenal football player and one of my favorite players in this class.”

    Julian Durden

    RB. 5’8″. 170. McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour

    Prior to Kent State:

  • First team All-Parkway Conference, first team All-Pennsylvania selection as a senior

  • Finished 2011 season with 2,104 yards and 32 touchdowns

  • Ran for 159 yards and four touchdowns in Montour’s first Class AAA State Championship

  • Rushed for 2,033 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior

  • Named to Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Fabulous 22 team and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review’s Terrific 25 all-star teams.

    “Julian is the other guy playing in the Big 33 game for the Pennsylvania side,” Hazell said.  “Very explosive, quick and has tremendous vision.  He has the top-end speed to take it 80 yards.  He’s a small guy but he’s tough.”

    Brice Fackler

    TE. 6’4″. 215. Kenton, Ohio/Kenton

    Prior to Kent State:

  • First-team All-Western Buckeye League selection as a senior after recording 179 tackles, four interceptions

  • 2011 Defensive Player of the Year in NBL

  • Caught four passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns in Kenton’s loss to Creston Norwayne in the Division-4 State title game

  • Four-year letter winner in football, as well as three years in basketball and baseball for Kenton

  • Brother of Kent State junior defensive end Mark Fackler.

    “Brice is a tough guy and ended up scoring four touchdowns in the state championship game…He’s got a great combination of speed, strength and toughness and could help us right away.”

    Chris Fairchild

    DT. 6’2″. 300. Oak Hill, Ohio/ Oak Hill

    Prior to Kent State:

  • First team All-Southern Ohio Conference in 2011, first team All-District and second team All-Ohio selection as a senior after recording 72 tackles and three sacks

  • Broke school’s single-game record with 20 tackles

  • The Oaks finished the 2011 season with a 2-8 record

  • First team All-SOC, first team All-District and third team All-Ohio as a junior after leading the Oaks to a 11-2 record with 83 tackles and 12 sacks in 2010

  • Also lettered two years in basketball and track.

    “Chris is a big guy,” Hazell said. “He’s very physical and commands the double team.  If you don’t double-team him, you’re in trouble.  He’s going to be able to beat the single block.  You can see him running down the line—for a big guy he runs extremely well.”

    David Fisher

    QB. 6’1″. 215. Oceanside, Calif./Palomar C.C.

    Prior to Kent State:

  • Named National Southern Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2011

  • Helped Palomar to a 7-4 record and an appearance in the Southern California Community College semifinals

  • Fisher completed 184-of-333 passes for 2,539 yards, 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He also ran for 403 yards and seven touchdowns.

    “I think the biggest thing is his charisma, his toughness and his ability to lead,” Hazell said.  “He’s always got great composure when he’s on the field.”

    Tad France

    OL. 6’4″. 265. Elyria, Ohio/Elyria

    Prior to Kent State:

  • First team All-Northeast Ohio Conference, first team all-county, and second team All-Ohio after recording 43 pancakes and allowing two sacks as a senior

  • Blocked at 90% efficiency and allowed just two sacks as a junior in 2010

  • Led the Pioneers to a 7-3 record in 2011.

    “He’s got so much potential to be a good football player for us,” Hazell said.  “He’s a bigger guy that’s athletic.  Once he gets his hands on you, you’re finished.  He’s got great feet and plays smart.” 

    Jordan Italiano

    S. 5’10″. 195. Canfield, Ohio/Canfield

    Prior to Kent State:

  • Started at quarterback and defensive back for the Cardinals

  • First team All-American Conference, first team All-Northeast Ohio, second-team All-Ohio and Big 22 selection in 2011 as Canfield’s Offensive MVP

  • Threw for 659 yards and six touchdowns, while rushing 149 times for 1,038 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior

  • Led Cardinals’ defense with 69 tackles and three interceptions in 2011 as a defensive back

  • Passed for 515 yards and six touchdowns and ran for 765 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior

  • Recorded 81 tackles, eight pass breakups and one fumble recovery in 2010, while being voted as team’s Offensive MVP and Defensive Back of the Year

  • Lettered three years in football and two years in basketball for the Cardinals.

    “I think he was our first commit, but you talk about a downhill guy, he’s that extra hat in the box that comes down and smacks you,” Hazell said.  “Another very smart guy who sees the field well and gets guys lined up.  He’s going to be a great local guy for us.”

    Jake Kincaid

    DE. 6’2″. 245. Pickerington, Ohio/Central

    Prior to Kent State:

  • All-Central District second-team selection in 2011

  • Second team all-state selection as a senior, as well as first team All-Ohio Cardinal Conference

  • Led the Central Tigers to a 11-3 record and an appearance in the OHSAA Division-I State title game

  • Opponents averaged less than 80 rushing yards against Kincaid and the Tigers.   

    “Jake Kincaid is probably going to be playing what we call our LEO spot,” Hazell said. “He’s athletic for a big guy, moves around and has tremendous balance.  You watch him engage a block and get off a block.  Very physical.”

    Colton Kmetz

    OLB. 6’5″. 220. Ijamsville, Md./Urbana

    Prior to Kent State:

  • Recorded 16 sacks and three blocked punts in 2011

  • Consensus first-team All-Maryland selection as a junior and senior

  • First team All-Monocacy Valley Athletic League…21 sacks as a junior, as well as 52 tackles for a loss

  • Named outstanding performer in Maryland 2011 Crab Bowl by Rivals.Com

  • Led the Hawks to a 6-4 record as a senior.

    “Colton Kmetz is a kid that played in the Crab Bowl, which is the best players in Maryland,” Hazell said. “A great pass rusher. He has a knack of slipping offensive linemen coming underneath the block, coming around the block, beating the block and getting to the quarterback. That’s probably his biggest strength.”

    Adam Maxie

    DB. 6’2″. 175. Westlake, Texas/Covenant Christian Academy

    Prior to Kent State:

  • First team All-Texas selection as both a junior and senior

  • 137 tackles, one forced fumble and five pass breakups in 2011

  • 117 tackles, 18 pass breakups and three interceptions as a junior in 2010

  • Father Brett is the defensive backs coach for the Tennessee Titans.

    Anthony Melchiori

    P/K. 5’11″. 185. Aurora, Ohio/Aurora

    Prior to Kent State:

  • Will kick for the Flashes despite recording 716 receiving yards for seven touchdowns, two kick returns for touchdowns and 22 tackles and two interceptions as a senior in 2011

  • Selected as a wide receiver in the Ohio North-South All-Star Game and the Big 33 team

  • Made 6-of-8 field goals and 63-of-68 point after attempts

  • Chagrin Valley Conference Offensive MVP and first team wide receiver

  • Three-year letter winner in football, as well as two years in track and one in basketball for Aurora

  • Father, Ray, played football for Kent State.

    “Tremendous athlete but we’re going to utilize him as a kicker and punter and have him battle for a job there,” Hazell said.

    Alex Nielsen

    OL. 6’4″. 260. Amherst, Ohio/Elyria Catholic

    Prior to Kent State:

  • Three-year starter at Elyria Catholic

  • Named first team All-North Coast League in 2011

  • Coached by Ben Malbasa.

    “Alex Nielsen is another guy that is a really good athlete,” Hazell said. “He plays hockey and is a very good hockey player. Very tough guy, very serious about being great, smart guy and maybe one of the smartest guys on the whole team.”

    Jason O’Bryan

    DB. 6’3″. 195. Madison, Ohio/Madison

    Prior to Kent State:

  • As a team captain in 2011, O’Bryan was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player and was a first team All-Patriot Athletic Conference selection

  • Recorded 50 tackles, 11 pass breakups and two interceptions in 2011

  • Also caught 28 passes for 432 yards and totaled seven touchdowns as a receiver for the 8-3 Blue Streaks.

    “Jason might be the biggest hitter of the bunch,” Hazell said. “A bigger safety that runs well, returns well and explodes into people when he hits them.  When you watch his film, all you see are big hits all over the place.”

    Colin Reardon

    QB. 6’1″. 195. Poland, Ohio/Poland Seminary

    Prior to Kent State:

  • Passed for 1,100 yards, ran for 278 yards and scored 10 touchdowns as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback in 2011

  • Named All-Ohio first team punter and recorded 30 tackles for four interceptions as a defensive back for Poland

  • Three-year letter winner in football, basketball, baseball and band

  • 1,000-career point scorer for the Bulldogs’ basketball team.

    “Exceptional quarterback for us,” Hazell said. “Great accuracy, great ball-timing…stands in there but he’s able to pull it down and run with it when he gets in trouble.”

    Reno Reda

    DE. 6’5. 255. Pataskala, Ohio/Watkins Memorial

    Prior to Kent State:

  • All-Ohio Capital Conference, All-Region, All-District and All-region MVP selection

  • Team captain for Watkins Memorial in 2011

  • Recorded 70 tackles and eight sacks as a junior for the Warriors

  • Lettered three years in football and baseball.

    “He’s very large with very long arms,” Hazell said.  “He mostly played at the tackle spot and could easily slip into a left tackle spot his feet are so good.  He’s got such great leverage, strength, range and power.”

    Kerrick Rhone

    DB. 5’11″. 175. Pflugerville, Texas/ Hendrickson

    Prior to Kent State:

  • Standout at cornerback and special teams for Hendrickson

  • Recorded 35 tackles, 20 breakups and two forced fumbles

  • Second team All-District cornerback and Academic All-District selection as a senior

  • Team won eight games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2011.

    “Kerrick Rhone from Texas is a very quick and explosive player,” Hazell said. “A very bright guy, you can tell he studies the game, digests things on the football field and is very physical—he’s a great tackler and has a knack for playing the ball.”

    Jamal Roberts

    DB. 5’10″. 170. Dale City, Fla./ Zephyrhills

    Prior to Kent State:

  • First team All-North Suncoast pick, a Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star and All-Conference selection for football and track

  • Threw for six touchdowns and 542 yards, while rushing for 1, 030 yards and 20 touchdowns

  • Placed second at districts last year in the 100-meter dash as a sprinter (11.15 seconds)

  • Coached by Reggie Roberts.

    “Jamal Roberts was our last addition into the corner slot,” Hazell said.  “He’s another guy from just North of Tampa who can do so many things. He was a quarterback for them and a great athlete for them.  But out of necessity, he also played cornerback.  He’s a very, very talented and very bright guy.”

    Keenan Stalls

    DB. 6’0″. 175. Tampa, Fla./Plant

    Prior to Kent State:

  • Finished the 2011 season with six interceptions, 19 pass deflections, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, 65 total tackles and one sack

  • Led the Panthers to the Florida 8A State Championship, defeating Miramar 31-20

  • Named to the Tampa Bay Times’ 2011 All-Suncoast second team defense.

    “He’s the only corner on the roster that has won back-to-back state championships from two different states,” Hazell said. “He won one in North Carolina and then moved to a very prominent football program in Tampa and won his second. He had to beat out some people to get into the lineup to win his second state championship. Quiet kid, very humble. He’s going to be a stellar player for us.”

    Jake Witucki

    OL. 6’5″. 283. Natrona Heights, Pa./ Highlands

    Prior to Kent State:

  • First team Greater Allegheny All-Conference selection

  • Named to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s North Fabulous-22 roster in 2011

  • Three-year starter for Highlands

  • Led his team to a 7-3 record in 2011..

  • Also lettered two years in track and one year apiece in baseball and basketball.

    “Jake Witucki may be the closest right now to being college-ready,” Hazell said.  “Very strong, brings a lot of power, has a tremendous punch and is able to block guys at the second level.”

    William Woods

    ATH. 5’9″. 175. Cleveland, Ohio/Shaw

    Prior to Kent State:

  • All-Ohio Honorable Mention selection following his senior season that saw him playing multiple spots on the football field

  • Also lettered in basketball and track

  • Shaw’s all-time assist leader as a guard for the basketball team.

    Compiled by the Kent State Athletic Department

Last year, Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell had three weeks to put together his recruiting class. This year, Hazell made the most of this year’s recruiting, which began Feb. 27, 2011.

Entering his second year as head coach, recruiting quarterbacks and defensive backs was at the top of Hazell’s recruiting lists. At 2 p.m. yesterday, Hazell and his staff reveal their 25 signees, which included more than solid quarterbacks and defensive backs.  

Of the 25 signees, 13 are offensive players, 11 are defensive and one on special teams. 20 of these 25 were captains on their respective high school teams, fourteen were from Ohio and two were from western Pennsylvania.

One of Kent State’s biggest signees was offensive lineman Jake Witacki. Despite graduating just one offensive lineman, center Chris Anzevino, the line’s poor performance called for recruiting more offensive lineman. A former high school basketball player, the 6-foot 5-inch, 280 pound Witacki has quicker feet than most offensive linemen of his size.

“We fought many (other recruiters) to get him,” offensive line coach Chris Bache said. “He’s the most college ready out of these incoming offensive linemen.”

The Flashes also appeared to recruit well in the tight end position. The 6-foot 4-inch, 215 pound Brice Fackler and 6-foot 4-inch, 210 pound Kyle Crum come in and immediately contend to fill the graduating Justin Thompson’s spot.

Fackler, the younger brother of Kent State’s junior defensive lineman Mark Fackler, caught five passes—four for touchdowns—in the Ohio High School Athletic Association 2011 Division IV Football Championships. 

Crum was an All-county, All-league, All-District and honorable mention all-state selection as a senior at Minerva, Ohio. Crum led his team to an undefeated season last year and also was a state runner up in the long jump in track.

“They detached him a lot from the formation because he could create matchups on safeties,” Hazell said. “He’s very athletic, makes one-handed catches, has great body control and plays extremely well.”

Another weak point to the Flashes was their limited number of defensive backs. So this off-season, the Flashes signed for defensive backs and two safeties. Along with character and passion for football, something they searched for in all of their recruits, height was one of the main concentrations defensive coordinator John Hacock made when scouting defensive backs and safeties. Of the six, three are six-foot or taller.

Adam Maxie and Jason O’Bryan are the two tallest defensive backs. Maxie stands at 6-foot 2-inches, 175 pounds and O’Bryan at 6-foot 3-inches, 185 pounds.

“Adam is going to start a corner for us,” Hazell said.  “He’s a 6-foot-2, long-armed guy who is very physical.  It’s good to get that experience.”

After Spencer Keith’s shaky performance in his junior season, Hazell made it clear recruiting for quarterbacks would be at the top of his list. Before offensive coordinator Brian Rock announced the two highly anticipated quarterbacks’ names, Rock explained the importance and difficulty of recruiting the right quarterback.

“Recruiting a quarterback, especially for our offense, is like hiring a coach,” Rock said. “They have to know so much of the offense.”

With the highly anticipated names, Rock announced Reardon as a quarterback with great arm strength and accuracy as well as confidence in the pocket, areas Keith has often struggled with.

In addition to Reardon, junior college transfer David Fisher will compete for the quarterback position. Like Reardon, Fisher has the good arm strength as well as the ability to tuck the ball and run when his pocket collapses.

“We had (Fisher) ear-marked early,” Rock said. “When I got out there to California, I found that not only is he a great athlete and has a great personality, he has great charisma.”

Fisher sets himself apart from the other signees as already being a student at Kent State. Fisher transferred to Kent State at the beginning of the spring semester, giving him the ability watch film with the other Flashes’ quarterbacks, making him eligible to play in the spring football season, which begins March 27.

Hazell said the quarterback is not the only position that is open—every position is open going into this season. Out of his recruiting class, Hazell said he believes every signee has the ability to start at this point. It is just a matter of how quickly they pick up the playbook and language of Kent State football.

Contact AJ Atkinson at [email protected].