Kent State officially wrapped up its coaching search Wednesday evening.
The Golden Flashes announced Minnesota Golden Gophers assistant head coach and running backs coach Kenni Burns as the program’s new head coach. Burns succeeds Sean Lewis, who unexpectedly departed from the same position on Dec. 5 to pursue an offensive coordinator gig at Colorado. The former Minnesota assistant will be the 23rd head coach in Kent State history.
Burns spent the past six seasons on P.J. Fleck’s staff at Minnesota as a running backs coach. He guided lethal rushing offenses throughout his tenure, including this year’s unit which ranks 11th in the FBS in ground production. Burns was promoted to an assistant head coach role prior to the 2019 season, which he served in addition to his duties in leading the running back room. At Minnesota, he worked with some of the nation’s best running backs including two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection Mohamed Ibrahim — the program’s all-time leading rusher — and former Gopher great Rodney Smith, a Second Team All-Big Ten selection who ranks third in rushing in Minnesota history.
Prior to Minnesota, Burns briefly accrued Mid-American Conference experience as a running backs coach on the esteemed 2016 Western Michigan squad that won a conference title and competed in a New Year’s Six bowl. He coached the dynamic running back duo of Jamauri Bogan and Jarvion Franklin, who combined for 2,276 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in a standout campaign. Prior to his one-year stint in Kalamazoo, Burns’ previous stops included Wyoming, as well as FCS assistant jobs at North Dakota State and Southern Illinois. Burns played running back at Indiana from 2003-06 and the 2023 season will be his 17th in the coaching industry and his first as a head coach.
Burns replaces Sean Lewis, who was responsible for one of the more prosperous stretches in Kent State history which included the program’s first-ever bowl win, a MAC Championship Game appearance, and the first stretch of three consecutive non-losing seasons since 1972-74.
Kent State opens its 2023 season under new leadership at UCF on Saturday, Sept. 2 in Orlando.