The transfer portal is becoming more widely utilized than ever, and when a head coach leaves for another opening, the usage of the portal only skyrockets.
Such is unfolding at Kent State, which saw five-year head coach Sean Lewis make the uncharacteristic transition from FBS head coach to an assistant coach Monday evening, when he accepted the offensive coordinator job on Deion Sanders’ staff at Colorado.
Prior to Lewis’ departure, two-time First Team All-MAC wide receiver Dante Cephas announced his entry into the transfer portal on Sunday. But the portal usage only increased for Kent State following Lewis’ stunning move to Boulder, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
On Tuesday afternoon, First Team All-MAC running back and Third Team All-MAC quarterback Collin Schlee also submitted their names to the transfer portal. Cooper posted an announcement on Twitter, while ESPN’s Pete Thamel first broke news of Schlee’s entry. Both Cooper and Schlee retain two years of eligibility.
Thank you Kent State, it’s truly been an honor… pic.twitter.com/1bTp5lErY5— Marquez Cooper (@quez__15) December 6, 2022
Cooper rushed for 1,331 yards and 13 touchdowns this season to qualify for all-conference honors for the second consecutive year. The junior running back’s highlight of the season was his 240-yard rampage complete with two touchdowns in an overtime win over MAC East champion Ohio. Overall, Cooper surpassed the 130-yard mark on five occasions in 2022 and at the time of the transfer, he is 17th in the FBS in rushing yards and tied for 19th in touchdowns. The Maryland native also posted impressive numbers in 2021 with 1,205 yards and 11 touchdowns. He leaves Kent State as the program’s sixth all-time leading rusher (2,818 yards) and in a tie for fourth place on the rushing touchdowns list with 29.
Schlee was a first-year starter in 2022, filling in the shoes for longtime program superstar Dustin Crum at quarterback. Schlee immediately thrived in the role as a dual-threat quarterback, securing Third Team All-MAC despite never starting a single collegiate game before September. The junior quarterback threw for 2,109 yards on a 59 percent completion clip, boasting a respectable touchdown to interception ratio of 13-to-5 along the way. In the rushing game, he piled on 492 yards and four touchdowns at 5.0 yards per carry.
Kent State’s transfer portal losses on offense go beyond the skill positions. First Team All-MAC offensive tackle Marcellus Marshall also announced his submission to the portal Monday afternoon, following the team’s other starting tackle in Savion Washington who entered the portal Sunday.
With Schlee, Cooper, Cephas, Marshall, and Washington headed to the portal, Kent State is now without five 2022 offensive starters which had the option to return in 2023. Redshirt senior and graduated student-athletes without eligibility set to leave the program include wide receiver Raymond James, tight end Kris Leach, center Sam Allan, and guard Elijah Ratliff. That leaves First Team All-MAC wide receiver Devontez Walker and guard Jack Bailey as the only returning starters for 2023 as of Tuesday, Dec. 6.
Kent State has yet to hire a head coach to replace Lewis before the Dec. 21 national signing day, but offensive coordinator Andrew Sowder is a potential candidate for the position, receiving a ringing endorsement from Lewis according to FootballScoop.
We’re still here. Still working.@KentStFootball is continuing to move in a positive direction ⚡️— ⚡️Andrew Sowder⚡️ (@CoachAndySowder) December 6, 2022