Sessler at top of his game, 3rd in NCAA

Kali Price

In the Sept. 17 game against Miami senior linebacker Jon Sessler takes down Miami of Ohio wide recevier Ryan Busing. In that game, Sessler led the Flashes with 12 tackles and leads the team in overall tackles as well.

Credit: Jason Hall

For senior linebacker Jon Sessler, football isn’t just a game.

It’s his life.

“Jon loves football,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “He loves to practice; he loves to play. He’s just plays with a lot of enthusiasm.”

Sessler leads all linebackers in the Mid-American Conference in tackles and is tied for third in the NCAA with 13.8 tackles per game.

In this season’s five games, Sessler has 69 overall tackles, 35 solo. The next closest is senior linebacker Justin Parrish’s 24 tackles.

“He’s playing his best football that he’s ever played,” Martin said.

Sessler, however, said he’s not thinking about the number of tackles he has or where he ranks in the NCAA.

“I’m not worrying about my individual performance,” Sessler said. “I’m just trying to win ball games. I want to play in a bowl game. Individually, I’m just doing the best I can to be a team leader.”

He has no problem being a team leader, Martin said. On and off the field, Sessler leads by example.

“He’s a great leader because of his example,” Martin said, “the way he plays. Just the emotion and enthusiasm he plays with is unparalleled.”

This season Sessler has posted at least 10 tackles in each game. Last week against Eastern Michigan, he had a career-high 17 tackles.

Tuesday, Sessler was named as a semi-finalist for the 2005 National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame National Scholar-Athlete Award.

Last season, Sessler was named to the Academic All-MAC team and won the Leo R. Strang award as the team’s upperclassman with the highest GPA.

“I think I make a good example for kids like Stevon Moss and Derek Burrell when they step up as juniors and seniors,” Sessler said. “Like next year, when they’re starting linebackers. They’ve got to have the character on and off the field and have the discipline. It’s going to be their defense.”

But despite being a good example, Sessler is more worried about the team’s performance because of the Flashes’ three-game losing streak.

“We just have to be more consistent and more disciplined,” Sessler said. “If we can get (those) two things down pat, we can do what we did last year. Last year we were consistent and disciplined in our play. This year we’re not, and you can see it on the field.”

Sessler said he thinks if the defense can do that, then he can finish off his senior year with a winning season.

“I’m feeling good,” Sessler said. “We’ve got six (games) left and we’re about to try and win all of these games and go seven and four.”

Contact assistant sports editor and football reporter Kali Price at [email protected].