Pruden set to make lasting impression

Sean Ammerman

Senior reciever led KSU’s deep-ball threat last year

Senior wide reciever Najah Pruden started 10 games last season and averaged more than 20 yards per catch. Gavin Jackson, DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Wide receiver Najah Pruden said he is looking forward to the end of the season, when he can finally get a much-deserved vacation from Kent State football.

For the past five years everything has revolved around the gridiron for the technology major. But until then, the star wide receiver is focused on his final 12 games as a Flash. And with four bowl teams on the schedule this season, things won’t end easily.

“I haven’t had one (vacation) yet since I started playing football,” Pruden said. “Every day has been football 24-7.”

Last season, Pruden became the break-out offensive star for Kent State. In 10 starts he led the team in reception yardage with 688 yards, was second in receptions with 33 while averaging more than 20 yards per catch. These stats earned him the team’s outstanding offensive performer honor.

This came after a sophomore year that was cut short by a knee injury.

Pruden said he has to play through a little pain this season from some injuries he suffered in practice. Nevertheless, he said he has played through every snap in practice and is prepared for tonight’s game.

“I feel like I got my legs back under me,” he said. “We got the offense down pat. We just got to get comfortable enough to go out there and play hard.”

Pruden has gained a reputation as a deep-ball play-maker for the team. In his freshman year he made the second-longest pass play in Kent State history with a 97-yard touchdown reception from Josh Cribbs.

Kent State football coach Doug Martin said his team needs Pruden to continue making explosive plays to improve on last year.

“We need him to be a deep-ball threat for us,” Martin said. “He’s got the size to take the balls away from people.”

Despite his records for deep plays, Pruden said he never aimed to be a deep-ball receiver.

“I would say it ended up that way on accident,” he said. “I hate running deep all the time, it takes a lot out of you. I like to run the short routes and then make my moves and get open. I think getting 20 yards after a catch is just me finishing the play.”

Even though he was one of the Flashes’ strongest offensive threats last year, he said he doubts the opposition will attempt to single him out. That doesn’t bother him, but he will try to use that against them.

“Some teams would probably look at us as just a Mid-American Conference team and overlook me,” he said. “And that gives me opportunities to keep myself open and do what I got to do.”

As the team’s most experienced wide receiver, Pruden has taken a leadership role with the other players at the position, Martin said. With a wide receiver group that includes three sophomores, the Flashes will need his input.

“He’s really started to take the reigns of the offense,” Martin said. “He’s become more of a vocal leader. He has done a nice job of leading by example too.”

Now in his final year as a Flash, Pruden wants to play every game as if it were his last, because, he said, he never knows if he will get another chance to catch a football again.

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


Stats / Position

6-foot-3, 185 lbs. / Wide receiver

Last season

Reception yardage: 688 yds.

Receptions: 33 (20 yds per catch)


Made a 97-yard touchdown reception

with Josh Cribbs his freshman year

In his word

“Some teams would probably look at us as just a Mid-American Conference team and overlook me. And that gives me opportunities to keep myself open and do what I got to do.”