Hart of the defense

Thomas Gallick

Ball hawk Lainhart draws inspiration from teammates, coaches for success

Daniel R. Sophomore Brian Lainhart tackles a University of Ohio running back for one of his six tackles during the Oct. 11 game at Dix Stadium. Lainhart now has registered 75 tackles, five interceptions and has forced three fumbles on the season. Doherty

Credit: DKS Editors

Kent State sophomore safety Brian Lainhart said he has the most fun on the football field the moment after an interception, but not for the most obvious reasons.

Sure, the Mid-American Conference’s leader in interceptions enjoys making a big play and getting the ball back for the offense, but he likes picks the most because he gets to do his best impression of senior quarterback Julian Edelman on the return.

“I love getting the ball and trying to act like Julian and Geno (junior running back Eugene Jarvis) when I get it and trying to see what I can do with it,” Lainhart said.

He does not envy the shifty quarterback’s skills, but he said he feels the need to try to one-up his roommate. Lainhart, who lives with Edelman and sophomore linebacker and high school teammate Cobrani Mixon, said the three can make a competition out of anything.

“We’re competitive at everything in the household – whether it’s Tiger Woods golf (video game) or cornhole, it’s a competition,” Lainhart said. “Things might get thrown if you’re losing.”

According to Lainhart, he routinely beats Edelman and Mixon in their friendly competitions, but it does not hurt their relationship.

“We’re all best friends,” Lainhart said. “I’m sure I’m probably (Edelman’s) biggest fan when he’s on the field, and I’m sure he’s mine when I’m on the field.”

Edelman said he is Lainhart’s biggest “cheerleader” on the sidelines and must keep his emotions in check while watching his friend make plays.

“I can’t get too fired up because I’ve got to go out there and play offense,” Edelman said. “It’s fun to watch him. He’s my roommate, so we always talk about it at home, and I hassle him (by saying), ‘You could have had another pick,’ or ‘You dropped one.'”

Edelman may like to make fun of his roommate for his errors, but the chiding is not one-sided. Lainhart said he also likes to trash talk Edelman a little if he intercepts him in practice, but said “it’s all love.”

The safety must view the stat sheet as a competition too. Lainhart leads the team in interceptions with five and forced fumbles with three.

Kent State’s defense has forced seven interceptions this season, with Lainhart contributing more than half. He intercepted Akron quarterback Chris Jacquemain three times earlier this season to start off his turnover tear and has averaged more than one interception per game in MAC play.

Kent State coach Doug Martin said he had been challenging the defense, which only had one interception through the first four games, to make more game-changing plays.

The Game:

KENT STATE (2-6, 1-3 MAC) at BOWLING GREEN (3-5, 1-3 MAC)

Where: Perry Stadium (Bowling Green)

When: 2 p.m. tomorrow

Radio: WNIR 100.1 FM,


“When (the offense) is having trouble and (giving up) turnovers, we’ve got to make up for it,” Lainhart said. “Lately, as you can see, we’ve been improving on defense. That’s our goal: to have fun and get as many turnovers as we can.”

Martin said Lainhart is having an exceptional year, and he respects the leader he is becoming on the team.

“I knew when we recruited him out of (Cincinnati) Colerain High School he was going to be something special more (because of) the character and heart that he plays with than the athletic ability,” Martin said.

Martin said Lainhart’s knowledge of the game and ability to understand why plays are being called make him stand out among other defensive players. He said Lainhart has been the most “loyal” player on the team to him, personally.

Lainhart said he sees Martin almost as a second father figure because of their relationship on and off the field.

“He helped me through a lot of times when I was having trouble, as probably everybody knows, earlier in the year,” Lainhart said. “Coach Martin was always there for me, always supported me and always had my back. I have a lot of respect for him.”

He referred to an incident last October after which he, Mixon and former Kent State football player Christen Haywood pleaded guilty to fourth-degree burglary.

Lainhart said Martin helped him move past the situation, and he now seeks out his coach for advice on situations ranging from athletics to classes.

He said his relationships with the players and coaches such as Edelman and Martin have been the highlight of his time in Kent.

“Even when school’s not going too good or life outside of football’s not going too good, you always have your guys, your coaches (and) your teammates to kind of just help you,” Lainhart said.

Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].