Jarvis rushes toward history in final season

Nick Walton

Running back embraces challenge of senior leadership

Senior running back Eugene Jarvis had 77 return yards in Kent State’s victory over Coastal Carolina last week. Jarvis was photographed Sept. 1 at Dix Stadium. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Senior running back Eugene Jarvis doesn’t like to hype himself up, but his coach isn’t afraid to.

“He’s the best running back in this conference, and I’ll say that without hesitation,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “He holds just about every school record there is here right now. He’ll walk out of here with just about all of them.”

The Game:


Where: Alumni Stadium

When: 2 p.m.

Live stream: ESPN360.com (available for free on campus, viewing

party at the Rathskeller)

Live blog: KentNewsNet.com

After rushing for 141 yards against Coastal Carolina, Jarvis is 580 yards from becoming the Flashes’ all-time leading rusher. Despite being close to this accomplishment, Jarvis would rather have a winning record.

“I’ve been here for five seasons, I’ve been here through the ups and downs,” Jarvis said. “I just want to leave here knowing I was part of the senior class that changed things around here at Kent State.”

After suffering from an ankle injury last season, Jarvis said he is moving past the adversity.

“I’ve been written off a lot, but that’s in the back of my mind,” Jarvis said. “I’ve dealt with adversity last season with my ankle injury.that’s in the past, and I’m moving in the future, so I’m just going to go out there and showcase what I know I can do on the field.”

One of the challenges Jarvis has to face this year is his expanded role as a leader during his senior season.

“It changes a lot. You got to lead by example, especially with some of these younger guys coming in,” Jarvis said. “You need to show them the ropes, and show them how it’s done, how to be first class on and off the field. And once you do that, that’s how you see better results as a team.”

For the last few seasons, special teams have been a recurring problem for Kent State. After Kent State finished last season with only 90 punt return yards, Jarvis decided he could step in and fill a role the Flashes desperately needed a stabilizing force in.

Martin said Jarvis had to adjust to returning punts because he hadn’t since high school.

“In the spring, quite honestly, he struggled a little bit with it,” Martin said. “I wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to do it, but he worked diligently this summer on that aspect of his game.”

During the summer, Jarvis worked with the Flashes’ punters to get ready for the season.

“To Eugene’s credit, this summer he wore our punters out,” Martin said. “He got those guys out here, and they must have kicked 800 balls to him a week, and he kept catching it.”

Jarvis has been successful early in his attempts at the return game, returning five punts for 77 yards and setting up both of the Flashes’ two touchdowns against Coastal Carolina in the season opener.

“It’s just like you’re out there playing street ball (because) you don’t have any set gap or anywhere to hit,” Jarvis said. “You just make the first guy miss and try to make something happen.”

In previous seasons, Jarvis didn’t return punts to prevent injuries, and after a fourth-quarter return against Coastal Carolina, he appeared to be hurt.

“I tried to brace myself for the fall, and that was pretty much it. I was all right,” Jarvis said after the game. Martin said jokingly Jarvis stayed on the ground to see how the crowd would react.

In the same game, Jarvis was important in helping sophomore quarterback Giorgio Morgan after hurting his ankle.

“A lot of my throws were high because I couldn’t step into them,” Morgan said. “It kind of threw me off rhythm, but I just had to calm down. I had guys like (Jarvis) and guys on the offensive line saying, ‘We’re going to give you time, just calm down.'”

Martin feels Morgan will help bring balance to the offense and help Jarvis prevent injuries.

“As opposed to him having to carry the ball 30, 35 times, he could carry the ball 20 times and get the same amount of yardage if we’re throwing the ball effectively,” Martin said. “Hopefully, that will help him to stay more healthy and open up more avenues for him to carry the ball.”

The Flashes will need to establish their offensive balance in tomorrow’s game at Boston College. In last season’s 21-0 lost to the Eagles, Jarvis was held to 51 rushing yards.

Martin said having a consistent player like Jarvis helps motivate the team.

“The expectation is that every time he touches the ball he’s going to score,” Martin said. “When you have a guy like that it creates a lot of excitement; it helps you know that you’re never out of a game because he can always score quickly, and that really changes every thing for you.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected]