With the first day in full pads, the football team was finally able to have full contact drills, and did so for portions of Friday’s practice, the fifth day of fall camp.
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Nix banged up
The Flashes defense got a scare when sophomore defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix, the reigning conference defensive player of the year, limped off the field after injuring his left big toe during a full contact drill where three defensive players tried to shed the blocks of three offensive lineman and tackle a running back.
Nix sat out the final portion of the practice after trainers removed his left shoe, ankle brace, and sock to wrap a bag of ice around his foot.
“I don’t even remember (how the injury happened). It’s all good now, I’ll be back.” said Nix after practice, downplaying the severity.
Offensive line experience
With four of five starters from last year coming back, the offensive line is the most experienced unit on the team.
“It’s definitely really nice to be able to play as a team,” said junior all-conference left tackle Brian Winters, who has started all 24 games of his college career. “We know how to play with each other.”
Joining Winters on the experienced offensive line is senior center Chris Anzevino, who has started all 36 games of his college career; junior right guard Kent Cleveland, who started every game last year; and redshirt junior Josh Kline, who started eight of the final nine games last season.
Redshirt sophomore Tyler Arend is expected to be the only new starter on the line, and even he has game experience. Arend started the first three games and eighth game of his freshman season at right guard and will likely fill the left guard position vacated by the Michael Fay, who graduated last year.
“You can’t replace game experience,” said new offensive line coach Chris Bache. “Guys have been there before. They’ve been on the field in front of people playing; they know what it’s about know what it takes.”
The offensive line experience is not limited to on the field, said Winters. “We bond all the time. If we’re not on the field, we’re always hanging out.”
Offensive line depth
Bache is confident about the five offensive line starters. The backups, however, are a different story.
“Depth is always an issue at that particular position,” said the coach who most recently spent a year at Adrian College after five years at Youngstown State. “The biggest thing that I have going in the fall is really to find out who six, seven and eight are. I need to find that next guy.”
Winters has his eye on several players who could play key roles on the line.
“Phil Huff, I see him playing a lot,” said Winters. “I also see Terrell Johnson playing a lot, he’s a really good player.”
Huff is a sophomore listed as the backup center during spring practice. Johnson is a redshirt freshman who has never played offense before. He came to Kent State and practiced last season as a defensive tackle.
“Terrell Johnson is really having a good camp right now, but there has to be two more guys that I have to find,” said Bache. “If I had to play tomorrow, I know I could count on about six but I’d like to have about eight. That’s my goal through camp.”
Up tempo camp
After a week of fall camp, the biggest difference between this practice under coach Darrell Hazell and past camps under former coach Doug Martin: tempo, according to players.
“It’s real live, it’s a lot of energy and high tempo,” said sophomore defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix about practice under Hazell. “I’ve only been to one camp but compared to last year, it’s a lot more running around, it’s higher energy, a lot more competition.”
Junior offensive tackle Brian Winters sees the same thing.
“It’s a lot more upbeat,” said Winters about practice under the new coaching staff. “Before, when we went individual (practicing in position groups), it was a lot more slow-beat; we had a lot of break time. But with Coach Bache, he keeps it up-tempo, keeps us going, which is good.”
Contact Summer Kent Stater reporter Doug Brown at [email protected]