One last cleaning

Joe Harrington


Winner: Senior Julian Edelman. Despite being held out of the final scrimmage on Saturday, the mobile quarterback showed coaches that his knee was healthy and his arm was getting stronger. For the first time in three years at Kent State, Edelman participated in spring practice, which will certainly benefit the offense as it moves into the summer.

Improvement: Sophomore Giorgio Morgan entered the spring as the quarterback that could push Edelman out of the starting lineup. Instead, Edelman might have secured the starting job when Morgan arrived late to the first spring scrimmage. The young quarterback, who threw three touchdowns in his first start of the season against Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan, is the future of the offense but needs to improve his pocket awareness. Edelman arguably has the best pocket awareness in the MAC.

Grade: B. Despite being sacked a lot this spring, including 11 times in one scrimmage, the quarterbacks showed that they were finally healthy. This is big, considering injuries forced the Flashes to start four different quarterbacks last season.

Running back

Winner: Sophomore Andre Flowers. With Eugene Jarvis being limited for most of the spring, Flowers took advantage of the playing time, rushing for two touchdowns on Saturday. Expect the Flashes to have one of the better running games in the MAC with formations that could include both Flowers and Jarvis in the backfield.

Improvement: Redshirt freshman Jamar Cromwell also benefited from Jarvis’ limited role. Although the Pittsburgh native isn’t expected to see too much playing time next season, he does improve the depth at running back after Darren Rogers decided to transfer.

Grade: B. Even though he didn’t play much this spring, Jarvis is still the best running back in the MAC, and with Flowers’ improvement, the Flashes could lead the MAC in rushing.

Wide receiver

Winner: Sophomore Leneric Muldrow had one of the better springs as a wide receiver.

Improvement: Kent State coach Doug Martin admitted after Saturday’s scrimmage that the wide receivers as a unit needed the most improvement on the offense. The simple fact is that all of the receivers need to become more consistent in catching the football.

Grade: C. Catching the football is a problem that may be solved over the summer. But the best thing that has happened to the wide receivers is the improved play of the tight ends, which will allow the receivers to get open down the field.

Tight end

Winner: Senior Jameson Konz. The linebacker-turned-receiver leads the most impressive offensive group of the spring. Konz ran the fastest 40 time on the team, and his athleticism was the biggest reason why coaches moved him to tight end. So far it’s been a terrific move, as Konz made several big plays in practices and scrimmages.

Improvement: Martin said all of his tight ends performed well this spring, but if sophomore Jon Simpson improves even more from the spring to the first game against Boston College, the offense should be pretty explosive.

Grade: A. Agreeing with the head coach, the tight ends were the most impressive unit on the offense and will be an essential key to the unit’s new emphasis on passing.

The offensive line

Winner: Senior Augustus Parrish. The second-team All-MAC tackle didn’t need much improvement, but he got it. Because of the play of sophomore defensive end Monte Simmons, who unofficially led the team in sacks, Parrish had to work extra hard all spring.

Improvement: The entire line will be improved the more it plays together. With senior center Josh Perry returning this summer from a knee injury, the line will be ready to lead the way for Jarvis.

Grade: B-. The offensive line struggled a bit with penalties, so it lowers its grade, but Martin said the O-line appears to be better at pass protecting than last year.

Defensive line

Winner: Simmons. The most improved player on defense, Simmons was close to unblockable this spring as he shot up the depth chart. Simmons had three sacks alone in one scrimmage, and Martin said his play even helped the passing game by putting pressure on the quarterbacks.

Improvement: The Flashes will miss graduating Colin Ferrell at defensive tackle, so pressure will be on juniors Aaron Hull and Sam Frist to pick up the slack.

Grade: A. Simmons and hybrid linebacker-end Hogan provided a lot of big hits and created a buzz around the team. Their play made the offensive line block better, the running backs recognize blitzes faster and the quarterbacks play smarter. All in all, the defensive pass rushers improved a lot.


Winner: Sophomore Cobrani Mixon. When senior Derek Burrell was asked which one of his linebacker teammates has impressed him the most, he didn’t hesitate to say Mixon. The Michigan transfer put off-the-field troubles behind him this spring and caught the eye of teammates and Martin. With Mixon’s athleticism, the Flashes won’t lose any speed after Konz’s move to tight end.

Improvement: The linebacking corps was one of the strengths of the team until a late season drop off. Consistency shouldn’t be a problem either, as the unit returns three starters: Burrell and seniors Cedrick Maxwell and Stevon Moss.

Grade: B+. Martin said the linebackers had one the best springs on the team, and that may be due to the athletic players they have. This unit should be able to handle pass coverage pretty well and continue to play solid against the run, as it did in the first half of last season.

The Defensive backfield

Winners: The coaches. This spring, the coaching allowed the defensive backs to play more man coverage, as opposed to the Flashes’ usual zone defense. Martin said the decision paid off, as the coverage improved all around.

Improvement: There’s no doubt that this unit has lost the most from last season. Losing emotional leaders such as safety Fritz Jacques and probable NFL draft pick Jack Williams hurts, but because the Flashes played so many different defensive backs in 2007, the unit should overcome the losses.

Grade: B. Senior Rico Murray played well in the final scrimmage and has the most experience. Sophomores Brian Lainhart and Dan Hartman both played well last season and will be battling for the starting strong safety job this summer.

Special teams

Winner: Junior Nate Reed. The kicker completed his transformation from a guy who struggled with everything in his freshman year to the kicker who was trying to break school records in the final scrimmage on Saturday. Reed’s next step is to become the go-to guy in the clutch. If he keeps progressing, it shouldn’t be long for that to happen.

Improvement: Well, punting was a problem, as it was last season, but recruiting will fix that problem in the summer. The Flashes aren’t sure who will return kicks, but either one of their speedster wide-outs could fill the void.

Grade: A. The special teams deserve it because of Reed. The Flashes probably win several more games if they had the consistency at that position in 2007. Now, Reed is arguably the most consistent player on the roster.

Contact assistant sports editor Joe Harrington at [email protected].