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2017 National Signing Day Recap: Kent State Golden Flashes

Paul Haynes and crew signed 22 new Flashes on Wednesday.

Kent State v Penn State Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

After finishing the season 3-9 last year, the Kent State football program is looking to bounce back and build the team into a Mid-American Conference contender. How do you do that? Hard work on the recruiting trail.

Tracking down high school and junior college talent from across the country, Paul Haynes and his group of Golden Flash assistant coaches' perseverance over the last year or so finally paid off after securing the signatures of 22 class of 2017 prospects on national signing day.

Meet The Class


  • Dustin Crum- Midview, OH/Midview- 6’3/210
  • Will Phillis- Hilliard, OH/Hilliard Bradley- 6’3/205

Running Back:

  • Xavier Williams- District Heights, MD/Bishop McNamara- 5’9/170
  • Isaac Vance- Las Cruces, NM/Mayfield- 5’8/160

Wide Receiver:

  • Donte Ross- Palmdale, CA/Antelope Valley College (CA)- 6’1/180
  • Jonathan Moore- Fort Lauderdale, FL/St. Thomas Aquinas- 5’7/175

Tight End:

  • Nathan Monnin- Piqua, OH/Piqua- 6’5/260

Offensive Line:

  • Sam Allen- Portage, MI/Portage Central- 6’3/265
  • Tyler Heintz- Kenton, OH/Kenton- 6’4/270
  • Eddie Brecht- Leaper, MI/Leaper East Senior- 6’7/290
  • Cam Landis- Erie, PA/Cathedral Prep- 6’3/285

Defensive Line:

  • Zayin West- Midlothian, VA/Manchester- 6’2/230
  • Anthony McKay- Salinas, CA/Monterey Peninsula College (CA)- 6’2/285


  • Cepeda Phillips- Detroit, MI/Martin Luther King- 6’0/220
  • Amari Jenson- Ypsilanti, MI/Ypsilanti-6’2/220
  • Kesean Gamble- Cincinnati, OH/Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy- 6’2/220
  • Sam Thomas- Baltimore,MD/St. Frances Academy- 6’1/215


  • Elvis Hines (Early Enrollee)- Haddonfield, NJ/IMG Academy (FL)- 5’10/165
  • KJ Sherald- Forestville, MD/Bishop McNamara- 5’9/170


  • Rodley Jolicoeur-Delray Beach, FL/Village Academy- 5’8/170
  • AJ Musolino-Struthers, OH/Struthers- 6’3/205


  • Ray James- Huber Heights,OH/Wayne- 5’11/170

Offensive Takeaways

Looking to add depth at a lot of spots on offense, Kent State made sure to secure just that. Landing multiple quarterbacks, linemen, running backs, and wide receivers, the Golden Flashes are hoping they struck gold this recruiting cycle.

While he might not be a five-star prospect, junior college wide receiver Donte Ross could see early playing time next season for Kent State. Used to making big plays on the JUCO level, something the Flashes could use more of, Ross should be a name to look out for in the future, as the Flashes look to rebuild the unit. Running back Justin Rankin led the Kent State receiving efforts with 335 yards last season, so Coach Haynes and crew definitely needed some big play threats on the edge.

They filled that need with Ross. A former high school quarterback with three years of eligibility left, he pulled in 61 passes for 1,082 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Marauders of Antelope Valley College.

Junior College isn’t Division I. It will take time for him to get acclimated to what Kent State will ask for on and off the field. With that being said, Ross has the potential to add something the Kent State offense has been missing.

Defensive Takeaways

The Kent State staff made sure linebackers and defensive backs were a big part of this class.

Linebackers Cepeda Phillips, Amari Jensen, Kesean Gamble, and Sam Thomas all have a chance to turn into absolute steals for the Flashes. All with good size, speed, and instincts, some Mid-American Conference programs might be scratching their heads pretty hard on why they didn’t pursue the four more during the recruiting process over the next few seasons.

Phillips, Jensen, Gamble, and Thomas aren’t the only ones that might find themselves on the field early at Kent State. Cornerback Elvis Hines, a three-star rated prospect, was a heavily-pursued recruit and has a chance to help the Kent State program sooner rather than later.

Hines, an early enrollee from IMG Academy, is already on the Kent State campus and will be able to participate in spring drills with the returning Golden Flashes in the coming months. Having a jump start on his classmates, he won’t just have a chance to learn the playbook, but also battle for a spot on the depth chart and learn what is asked from him as a student athlete.

Overall Outlook

Like every school in the country, Kent State missed out on some of their top targets to other programs throughout the process, but did an overall solid job at getting the type of prospects they sought after for their system.

It might not be as star studded as other Mid-American Conference programs, but overall the Golden Flashes put together a better class than some around the recruiting scene thought they would. While it will take quite a bit of time to really get a feel on the class as a whole, it sure looks like the Flashes have added many high potential athletes to the roster for the years to come.