Mobility could give junior-college transfer starting quarterback job

Sean Ammerman

In Friday’s press conference Kent State football coach Doug Martin addressed the team’s need for consistency at the quarterback position.

With a decent season last year, many coaches and players assumed incumbent Michael Machen would reprise his role as the starter. But the story has changed since May, when Julian Edelman, a junior-college transfer, arrived on campus and started impressing players and coaches with his speed and versatility.

• Style: Edelman comes to Kent State as a junior-college transfer from the College of San Mateo in California. In his freshman year, he overtook the starting quarterback position three games into the season and proceeded to break the school rushing record. He was later named most valuable player in his region. No doubt, the results were impressive, but the California native could be in for a rude awakening in NCAA Division I-A play.

• Strengths: The guy can run. If things aren’t happening in the pocket Edelman isn’t afraid to scramble. This is the one case in which his modest 6-foot stature could be a benefit, making him more difficult to tackle.

“I can make plays with my legs,” Edelman said. “If I see something open, I’ll take it.”

His willingness to run has had teammates and coaches comparing him to former Kent State quarterback and current Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Cribbs.

“He probably has a better grasp of the passing game than Cribbs had,” Martin said. “He is a dynamic guy, he can make plays, make things happen.”

• Weaknesses: Edelman simply doesn’t have the experience against high-caliber opponents. He may have been able to throw 31 touchdowns in the Northern California Conference, but it will be a different story in the MAC.

Also, he has only been in camp since May, giving him little time to learn a new offense.

“It is a little difficult coming into something brand new,” Edelman admitted. “But I’m taking it all in.”

Being one of the shortest players on the field won’t help him either. Especially when he has to throw over towering linemen.

• Improvements: Edelman went to San Mateo with the goal of being recruited by a D-I program, and came to Kent State to fill in as backup quarterback. Since May, he has elevated himself to being a viable contender the starting job.

“He does not lack for confidence, I can tell you that,” Martin said. “The way he worked out with our team this summer, the way he committed himself, he is a hard-working kid and I think he gained a lot of respect from the team.”

The most important thing Edelman said he learned while at San Mateo was patience. No longer the hot-head thrower, Edelman said he is focused on more than just proving himself.

“I don’t want to force balls,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll make a mistake and that situation will come up again,”

• Thoughts on Machen: The competition has made both players better, Edelman said. Despite the possibility of losing a job, Edelman said Machen has helped him every way he can.

“He is a great teacher,” Edelman said. “He knows the offense so well. But there is a little tension because we are both going for the same job.”

Contact assistant sports editor Sean Ammerman at [email protected].