Twenty-two new football players announced for program’s future

Thomas Gallick

Rivals ranks recruiting class No. 1 in the MAC

Kent State football coach Doug Martin goes over the 2009 recruiting class with WNIR broadcaster Tom Linder last night at the Water Street Tavern. The 2009 recruiting class consists of 22, recruits including eight from Ohio. Daniel R. Doherty | Daily Kent

Credit: DKS Editors

Credit: DKS Editors

The Kent State football team announced its recruiting class yesterday, which included 14 out-of-state recruits among its 22 players.

Kent State coach Doug Martin said some members of the class, which was ranked first among recruiting classes in the Mid-American Conference by, could make an impact early, especially on special teams.

“Special teams is an area where freshman usually get to play the earliest,” Martin said. “If you have some quality athletes there, it’s an opportunity for them to get on the field. We need to continue to get better in that area.”

Special teams hampered the Flashes all season last year, as Kent State finished at or near the bottom in the 13-team conference in punt return average (13th), kickoff returns (12th), field goals (11th) and extra points (13th).

One recruit Martin expects to battle for playing time is kicker Freddy Cortez from Fort Meade High School in Fort Meade, Fla., who could beat out junior kicker Nate Reed for the starting spot. Recruiting coordinator Zane Vance said the staff focused on recruiting Cortez after a long search for the best available kicker.

Vance also said he looks to Dri Archer, a running back from Venice High School in Laurel, Fla., to step in and play on special teams.

“We certainly have some guys that are going to be major threats to contribute,” Vance said. “Obviously Dri Archer can fly.”

Martin said the 5-foot-1 running back reminded him of another undersized back currently on the team.

“Dri’s an electric player,” Martin said. “He reminded us of Eugene Jarvis (because of) the size and make-you-miss ability. He’s played tremendous competition down in South Florida.”

Kent State’s coaches also believe they addressed the problems at the wide receiver position.

Only two wide receivers had more than 15 receptions last season: senior Shawn Bayes (39) and junior Phil Garner (17). With Bayes gone, the Flashes needed to find new weapons to use at the position.

Kent State recruited three big wide receivers in this class in Jeff Walker, a 6-foot-5 receiver from Coventry High School in Akron, Tyshon Goode, a 6-foot-1 receiver from Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., and Ed Cazenave, a 6-foot-2 receiver from East Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga.

Martin said the size of the receivers is just a bonus, as the coaches were simply looking for receivers that could hold on to the ball.

“I don’t care if they’re 4-foot tall or 7-foot-3 as long as they catch it,” Martin said. “We got some guys that can play consistently. That’s what we were looking for at wide receiver. We were lucky to get some size.”

Goode is one of six players recruited from Hargrave this year by Kent State. Other Flashes who previously attended the academy include graduating senior linebacker Derek Burrell, freshman defensive back Josh Pleasant, freshman wide receiver Kendrick Pressley and junior defensive lineman Sam Frist.

Martin said the players from Hargrave are more likely to contribute than ordinary freshmen because they have played tougher competition.

Other standouts in the recruiting class include defensive lineman Dana Brown Jr., offensive lineman Max Plunkett and tight end Bryan Wagner.

Vance said although coaches from every team in America will say they like their class, the Kent State coaching staff really thinks it fixed some issues from last season with this class.

“I think the first thing that you do in recruiting is you fill your needs,” Vance said. “One of the most attractive things about (our class) is that we filled our needs.”

Contact assistant sports editor Thomas Gallick at [email protected].