Flashes prepare for home opener


Sophomore defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix attempts to tackle quarterback Mike Gerardi last year against Temple. Photo by Jessica Yanesh.

A.J. Atkinson

Nix ready for home opener

One observation of the Flashes’ game against Alabama Saturday was the fact that defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix is an enormous force.

Though Kent State coach Darrell Hazell has watched Nix all summer, he said he did not realize how good the 6 foot, 244- pound sophomore was until he watched the tape of Saturday’s game.

“I’m glad we don’t play against him because he is as disruptive as a player as I have seen since Dwight Freeney at Syracuse when I was at West Virginia,” Hazell said. “He’s that disruptive.”

Hazell said they could line Nix up in different positions on the defensive line to give opposing offenses more to think about when double-teaming him.

“There’s going to be times that we’re going to have to hide him,” Hazell said of Nix. “(Opponents are) going to try and double him, which I don’t know how you would do because he’s just so fast off the ball. He’s an unbelievable, unreal player. He’s fun to watch.”

Nix is playing with an injured foot. He said the injury does not affect him in games.

“When you’re rushing and you got a man that’s not too kind of you and doesn’t really want you in his way, the pain goes away,” Nix said. “It’s always there, but you forget about it when you’re playing.”

The injury not being a problem for Nix was obvious against Alabama. Nix spent most of Saturday’s game in the backfield pressuring the quarterback.

“I was just so excited to play in that game,” Nix said. “Alabama is just such a great team and a great atmosphere that I’ve never played in. I didn’t really feel the injury. It wasn’t a factor.”

Both Nix and Hazell said they do not see this injury limiting Nix’s playing time during games.

“We’ll keep in him shape by putting him on the bicycle in practice,” Hazell said. “Let him watch practice and make sure he understands the schemes that we’re running. Not stress him out on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, then cut him lose for the game.”

Following in his parents’ military footprints, Anthony Meray was attending an Air Force prep school in 2010.

But half way through his first year, Meray realized he was not ready to say goodbye to playing football.

Meray and Rajeem Moore, Meray’s backup running back and best friend at the Air Force Preparatory School in Colorado, began searching and contacting colleges in the month of June (most schools are done with their freshmen signings by January). Meray was looking for a Division I school that could offer him a full scholarship and the possibility to play right away.

Meray and Moore started researching extensively to find the right fit for the former standout at Bethel High School in Spanaway, Wash.

Kent State and their new coaching staff stood out.

Meray said he kept making phone calls and emails to various Division I schools, but he had yet to hear from anyone at Kent State.

“I was contacting them and thinking, ‘Man, they’re not going to give me a shot,’” Meray said. “My friend Moore was like, ‘No man. Don’t give up. Keep up the phone calls and emails.’”

Finally, someone picked up the phone on one of his many attempts.

“I came back from Bible study and contacted (Kent State linebackers coach Marcus Freeman),” Meray said. “He said after looking through my film, he immediately got the coaches and talked with them and said, ‘We could use this guy.’ That spoke volumes to me the fact that they were one of the only Division 1 schools to not step out on me.”

Kent State coach Darrell Hazell said he remembers watching Meray’s film and thinking how lucky they were that he contacted them.

“Why is he still out there?” Hazell said his first thought was after seeing the tape. “We would have recruited him if we knew about him. Sometimes guys come across the radar late in the process. He may be one of the best draw runners I’ve seen in high school. We were fortunate to have an extra scholarship.”

Although the Flashes gave Meray their final scholarship, they had plenty of depth at the running back position. With senior Jacquise Terry as the starter and junior Dri Archer projected as the primary backup, Meray was unlikely to see time this season.

But everything changed when Archer was ruled academically ineligible just prior to the start of the season.

With Archer on the sidelines, the Flashes are looking to Terry, Meray and fellow freshman running back Trayion Durham to pace the offense.

The 5-foot-7, 191-pound running back, who Hazell described as a shifty power back, said he is not intimidated by the depth and talent Kent State has at running back.

“Being able to compete against other running backs is healthy for us,” Meray said. “Everyone else says it’s a bad thing, ‘You might not be able to play here. You might not get as many reps. But honestly, I love competition. I feel it only makes me better as an athlete.”

Meray has impressed the coaches with his talent. In the fall scrimmage, Meray ran for 107 yards and one touchdown. He made his college debut against Alabama, making two carries for a total of one yard. Hazell said the staff is still trying to figure where Meray fits with all the other running backs, but are sure they will not have a problem getting him in position to make plays.

“We’re still trying to figure out exactly what his role is going to be, but he is going to play a lot of football for us this year,” Hazell said. “He can provide a spark and a lot of juice. It’s going to be fun to see him develop.”

Meray and his teammates’ first game at Dix Stadium for the 2011 season is Saturday at 7 p.m. against Louisiana.

Contact A.J. Atkinson at [email protected].