Machen arms himself

Joshua Hudson

Former Braves prospect, ‘Bama player looks to lead Kent State at QB in 2005

Sophomore quarterback Michael Machen came to Kent State in Janurary and has been working out with the football team since. He is among the candidates to replace Joshua Cribbs at quarterback next year.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Michael Machen doesn’t seem to mind that he is attempting to fill the shoes of one of the best football players in Kent State history.

Machen is looking to replace Joshua Cribbs next season as the Flashes quarterback. Machen is the leading candidate to assume that role when the football team opens against Michigan State Sept. 3.

Cribbs left some pretty big shoes to fill for the next Kent State quarterback. He finished the year with 893 rushing yards, 2,215 passing yards and 26 total touchdowns. He led the team for four years while dazzling fans with his athletic ability and keeping numerous plays alive.

But for the first time in four seasons, Kent State won’t be able to lean on the legs of Cribbs. While Cribbs is taking a shot at a professional career, Kent State will be looking for the next quarterback to lead a more pass-oriented offense.

Most players would be nervous at the prospect of replacing such a player but not Machen. He said you can’t compare him with Cribbs.

The Mobile, Ala., native, who transferred from Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan., in December, looks to be the player the coaching staff hopes can take the team to the next level.

“I don’t really think that you can compare us because we have two different styles of play,” he said, referring to the differences between Cribbs and himself. “He did his own thing which was geared more towards the run. I am more of a passing quarterback.”

Kent State coach Doug Martin agreed with Machen’s assessment of the playing styles.

“Josh was our primary runner last year, so this year that is going to have to change,” he said. “Mike has got some mobility, but we are going to go to more of a passing game. That is something that I have been trying to do since I have been here.”

Machen should provide the aerial attack that Martin has wanted. He finished with 22 touchdowns and over 2,000 passing yards for Coffeyville Community College last year. He led the team to a 10-2 record and a victory in the Valley of the Sun Bowl.

While Martin is hoping to utilize Machen’s arm next year, Alabama and the Atlanta Braves noticed his arm out of high school.

He was drafted out of high school by the Braves organization and decided to try his luck on the diamond. But he said the writing on the wall led him in a different direction.

Machen decided to attend Alabama and try his luck at quarterback under coach Dennis Franchione. But after just one season, Franchione left for Texas A&M and Machen’s shot seemed to go with him. Two coaches later, Machen decided it was time to move on and find success somewhere else.

“I wish I never went to Alabama,” he said. “When coach (Mike) Shula arrived, I was never given a shot. I had three different coaches and learned three different offenses in about a year.”

Machen said the only thing he knew about Kent State was it had a pretty good basketball team. But now that he is here, he feels he made the right decision.

“I feel that Kent State is on the right track, and I am happy to be here,” he said. “The people have really made me feel welcome, but I still feel that I have to earn their respect.”

Martin said he is also happy that Machen decided to attend Kent State.

“Mike has a very strong arm and doesn’t seem rattled in different situations that we put him in,” Martin said. “He has been everything that we have hoped for and then some.”

Contact sports reporter Joshua Hudson at [email protected].