Junior kicker Freddy Cortez walked up to the podium of the football team’s meeting room yesterday.
Kent State coach Darrell Hazell asked Cortez to address the Flashes following a draft that took place to pick the teams for Saturday’s Blue vs. Gold game.
Cortez walked up to the podium and burst into a sentence of fluent Spanish.
The room erupted in laughter.
“That was the goal, to have the guys have a lot of fun here,” Hazell said. “It will be exciting.”
Hazell and his coaching staff organized a draft to pick the two teams for Saturday’s game. He split the seniors up into two groups, and one spokesperson for each team chose which position to begin with, and which player of that position they were to pick first.
The picking continued until each player was taken.
The Blue team’s spokesperson, senior center Chris Anzevino, won the opening coin toss and starting the draft with the quarterback position.
“With the first pick in the 2011 draft, the Blue team selects (junior quarterback Spencer Keith),” Anzevino said.
The Blue team stood up, cheered and clapped in unison.
Keith walked to the podium. Anzevino wrapped his arm around the quarterback’s shoulder, pointed to the video cameras that were taping the event and told Keith to look at them as if it were the NFL Draft.
This is the first time the Kent State football team has done a draft of the spring game since former coach Doug Martin did so in his first season in 2004. Hazell brought the tradition with him from Ohio State as a form of team bonding.
“It’s very important that we grow together,” Hazell said. “That’s what championship teams are made of.”
Laughter and comradery were obvious yesterday as both players chose their teammates for the spring game. While the players joked around, there was some friendly chatter about who will win Saturday’s game.
Each captain gave the other a hard time as picks were made, and when the draft was over, the Gold Team’s captain, junior running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry, had a few choice words for his opponent.
“There will be no lockout, so we will perform,” Terry joked. “We know we’re gonna beat ya’ll.”
Hazell expects his team to play hard throughout the game, and play as if they are competing against a real opponent. He expects tempers to be flaring and a competitive streak to take over, but when the players are in the locker room at the end of the game, Hazell expects everything to go back to normal.
“When the day’s over on Saturday night, those guys will come together, love each other and they’ll figure out that the next four or five months is something we’ll have to work hard to prepare ourselves for the season,” Hazell said.”
The Gold team will be coached by running backs coach Jafar Williams, while the Blue team is led by offensive line coach Chris Bache.
Hazell will not coach either side in Saturday’s game. He plans to simply soak-in his team’s first game in-front of the Kent State fans.
“I’m going to spectate on Saturday,” Hazell said. “I’m going to walk up and down the sidelines to make sure no one’s cheating. Enjoy myself.”
The Blue/Gold game will kick-off on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Dix Stadium. The game is open to the public and admission is free.
You can contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected]