Running three deep

Lance Lysowski

Trio of running backs anchor Kent State’s offense.

Senior Eugene Jarvis, junior Jacquise “Speedy” Terry and sophomore Dri Archer aren’t your typical running backs at the college level.

Usually a position known for personalities and egos, Kent State’s backfield does not follow the trend.

“They all bring a lot to the table, and that depth is invaluable because somebody is going to get hurt at some point,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “There are no egos with those guys, which is rare.

Usually you do have some of that, but we don’t. Also we’re using Jacquise as a receiver a bit so we can get two of them on the field at the same time.”

The trio, known as the “The Three Horsemen” because of their relationship off the field, will compete for carries in Martin’s offense beginning Thursday in Kent State’s season opener against Murray State at Dix Stadium.

“We just have that bond together,” Jarvis said. We’re not worrying about who is in there. We know who’s in there can step up and make plays. We have a great relationship on and off the field.”

Jarvis rushed for 1,669 yards and 10 touchdowns his sophomore year, but has been limited for the past two seasons from injuries. The NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility following a season-ending kidney injury against Boston College last season.

Following Jarvis’s injury, Terry and Archer stepped in. With a combination of speed and power, “Speedy” assumed the role as the Flashes’ starting running back. Archer stepped in as a true freshman later in the season and displayed breakaway speed and elusiveness.

While an injured Terry sat out the season finale against Buffalo, Archer anchored Kent State’s rushing attack with 10 carries for 93 yards. Terry finished the season with 649 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while Archer rushed for 246 yards.

Kent State running backs coach Jerry McManus, who coached three 1,000-yard rushers at East Carolina in eight years, said not only does the group bring different elements to the team’s offense, but also the depth they give Kent State is a rarity.

“I have four running backs we can put in the football game and really not lose a beat,” McManus said.”

That’s probably unusual at the Division I level. Usually you can run two deep or three deep, but we have four running backs that played last year. That’s a nice luxury to have.”

That fourth running back is junior Andre Flowers. Caught in the middle of the team’s crowded backfield, Flowers has displayed glimpses of talent during his career, but has never risen on the depth chart.

Jarvis, who was named a team captain for the 2010 season, has become a mentor of sorts to his younger counterparts. When Archer arrived on campus, he was a thousand miles away from his hometown of Laurel, Fla., and struggled to come to terms with being away from his family and friends. While the timid, but talented freshman pondered a return to Florida, Jarvis stepped in and convinced him to stay.

“Coming in, these two (Jarvis and Terry) were like my big brothers,” Archer said. “They got me through everything on the field, off the field, school, work and they just helped me out with everything.”

As the season opens Thursday, the three running backs are eagerly waiting to make an impact on game day. Terry said the group is confident in their abilities, and with the talent on the offensive side of the ball, it’s going to be a special year for Kent State.

“The three horsemen will be in effect a lot this year,” Terry said.

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].