Top MAC Football Players of 2014: No. 39 Kent Kern, Miami LB

Kent Kern, seen here wrapping up Braxton Miller's leg, has sky-high potential with the new Miami staff. - Kirk Irwin

At No. 39 on our list, Kent Kern was a rare bright spot on Miami's defense last season.

If you watched any MAC football last season, you know that Kent Kern is the best returning defender on the Miami RedHawks. He garnered second team All-MAC honors at linebacker, where he was one of just a few bright spots on the squad.

Kern, a product of Toledo St. John's Jesuit, chose Miami over offers from about half the MAC, and RedHawk fans viewed him as a good pickup when he committed. He's certainly lived up to the billing.

Even though he played in just eleven games, Kern led Miami in tackles last season with 98, and he had double-digit tackles in five games. He also recorded five tackles for loss and a couple of pass breakups.

Unfortunately, what's held back Kern's development is the same as what's held back every current Miami player's development: the Don Treadwell regime. If Kern had learned the college linebacker position under the legendary Bull Reese instead of an overmatched Jay Peterson, we'd be talking about a guy ranked higher than No. 39.

But thirty-ninth it is, and this is despite the most incompetent head coach in Miami history poisoning everything. Instead, he'll be tutored by position coach Joe Palcic, a key staff member of Miami's dominant 2003 run who went on to spend five years as the DC at Indiana and most recently served as an assistant to Nick Saban's Crimson Tide.

Kern has shown what he can do when the team has a laughable strength and conditioning program and overmatched coaches. With the right support behind him? I foresee big things.

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