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Kent State Golden Flashes Class of 2023 Transfer Portal Rundown

It’s been a tumultuous offseason for the Golden Flashes. As to be expected with a coaching change, Kent State will have to replace a lot.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 AutoZone Liberty Bowl Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It looked like Sean Lewis was just getting started with Kent State. They continued to take steps forward in getting back to relevance. Last year’s team had nine total postseason all-MAC selections, including four first-team selections, three second-team selections, and two third-team selections.

But as with all things in college football, change is inevitable. Fast-forward to 2023, and every first-team selection is in the Transfer Portal, while Lewis, who was previously considered to be returning after a brief flirtation with Cincinnati, instead turned his eyes West, joining Deion Sanders’ staff at Colorado as an offensive coordinator.

With such an excellent recruiter and well-respected coach leaving Kent, it was to be expected many players would leave— whether to go to Colorado or elsewhere. New coach Kenni Burns has a lot of connections from his years as a Power Five assistant, meaning he’ll have his work cut out to utilize those in order to find new players to mind the gaps.

So, strap in.

You’re going to read a lot of names.

Outgoing transfers

  • QB Colin Schlee (UCLA)

Let’s just rip off the band-aid. After three years in the Kent State program, Collin Schlee is on the move westward. In his first two years on campus, Schlee was utilized in certain packages, completing 24 of 37 for 351 yards and three touchdowns. Then, he took over full-time in 2022. The third-team All-MAC quarterback threw for 2,109 yards and 13 touchdowns, completing 59 percent of his passes. As we’ve said before, Schlee was originally a pro-style quarterback but was utilized in a rushing role, amassing 489 yards and four scores.

  • RB Bryan Bradford (Uncommitted)

After playing with the Golden Flashes for four years, Bryan Bradford has jumped into the Transfer Portal. In his time with Kent State, Bradford was primarily a depth piece in the running back room. After redshirting in 2019. Bradford rushed the ball 37 times in 2020 for 254 yards in their four games played. It was more of the same in 2021 where he ran for 298 yards and three touchdowns. Last year, he saw action in 12 games and amassed 302 yards and a pair of scores.

  • RB Shakhi Carson (Stony Brook [FCS])

Shakhi Carson was another depth piece within the Kent State running back room over the last two seasons. In 2021, Carson did not appear in any games. In the game against Long Island, Carson made his collegiate debut and that was where he earned all of his productivity. In that game, Carson ran the ball six times for 61 yards and a touchdown.

  • RB Marquez Cooper (Ball State)

After three seasons starting at Kent State and earning second-Team all-MAC in 2021 and first-Team all-MAC in 2022, Marquez Cooper is transferring within the conference. Over his 30 career games, Cooper amassed 93.77 yards per game which includes 13 100+ yard games. He set a new career-best in his 240-yard performance this year in the win over Ohio.

To say the running back room will look vastly different would be an understatement. Losing Cooper is going to hurt the Flashes in a massive way and we are just getting started.

  • WR Naran Buntin (Northern Iowa [FCS])

One year was enough for Naran Buntin and he is off to the Transfer Portal. Buntin was a two-star prospect out of Mater Dei in New Jersey. At Kent State, Buntin appeared in seven games but did not register any stats.

  • WR Dante Cephas (Penn State)

Quite possibly the largest loss in the Kent State Transfer Portal, Dante Cephas, a first-team All-MAC selection in 2021 and 2022, is on his way out. After his first two years resulted in just seven appearances, Cephas took a massive step in 2021. He recorded 1,240 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games. Last year, he only appeared in nine games due to injury but still managed 744 yards and three touchdowns.

Cephas is considered the top outgoing MAC transfer according to On3 Sports.

  • WR Ja’Shaun Poke (West Virginia)

The second of five receivers leaving the program, Ja’Shaun Poke is taking his second-team All-MAC credentials to the Big 12. In four years, Poke totaled 1,033 receiving yards and five touchdowns over 36 games. Where he was most dangerous was in the return game. In his time, Poke returned 44 kicks for 1,110 yards for over 25 yards a pop.

  • WR Isaac Vance (Gardner-Webb [FCS])

While he may not have had the impact of any of the other wide receivers, Isaac Vance was a known and appreciated name among the Kent State faithful after six years with the program. Vance appeared in 39 games after redshirting in 2017, with all of his receiving stats in the 2020 COVID season, where he converted 17 receptions for 148 yards.

  • WR Devontez Walker (North Carolina)

The top outgoing transfer from the MAC is Devontez Walker. according to 247Sports. Last year, after putting up 921 yards and 11 touchdowns, Walker was named first-team All-MAC. Walker initially signed on to play for North Carolina Central (FCS) prior to the 2020 season but because of COVID-19, he did not play. He then transferred to Kent State where he turned just five receptions into 124 yards and a score.

Walker was a dynamic playmaker for the Flashes last year and his ability to take anything to the house will be missed by the Kent State offense.

  • WR Marcus Harris (Uncommitted)

Marcus Harris spent just one season in the Kent State program before heading into the Transfer Portal. Harris came to Kent State as a two-star recruit from Radcliffe, Kentucky, and was the 26th-best recruit in the state. Harris appeared in seven games for the Flashes and recorded two receptions for 16 yards.

  • OT Savion Washington (Colorado)

Surprisingly, only two players followed Sean Lewis to Boulder. The first was Savion Washington, last year’s starter at right tackle. In his first two years, Washington did not see much action, as he redshirted in 2020 and only played in one game in 2021. Last year, Washington was the starting right tackle and while he did not earn All-MAC honors via the conference, Washington earned second-team honors from PFF.

  • IOL Jack Bailey (Colorado)

A two-year starter on the offensive line, Jack Bailey is looking for a new start and followed Lewis and former OL coach Bill O’Boyle to Colorado. He redshirted his first year in 2019 and appeared in a couple of games in rotation in 2020. In 2021, he worked his way into the starting lineup for six games. Then, last year, Bailey started at guard for the Flashes for all 12 games.

Bailey and Washington will both find themselves in an immediate battle, as the Buffs have two incumbent starters and seven incoming linemen who were starters at their old schools. Coach Prime is bringing his own luggage and “it’s Louis.”

  • OT Marcellus Marshall (UCF)

Finally, the third starter on the offensive line who is hitting the Portal is Marcellus Marshall. Of the three, Marshall is likely the biggest loss as he earned first-team All-MAC honors. After appearing in just one game as a freshman, Marshall took over as the starting left tackle in 2022. The six-foot-five, 330-pound tackle was in high demand and he chose to make the jump to the Big 12 and transfer to UCF.

  • DL Adin Huntington (Louisiana-Monroe)

Only one player from the defensive line group is leaving and it’s Adin Huntington. After appearing in just two games in his freshman year in 2020, Huntington earned a regular role in 2021. In 14 appearances, Huntington accounted for 34 tackles, seven TFLs, three sacks, two forced fumbles, and a batted pass.

Last year, he only saw action in five games. In total, he amassed five tackles, one of which was for loss.

  • LB Luke Miller (Duquesne [FCS])

Luke Miller, who was nowhere to be seen on the Flashes’ 2022 roster, has elected to transfer to Duquesne. He did not appear in any action for Kent State in his time.

  • CB Montre Miller (West Virginia)

After 41 games in five years, Montre Miller is off to the Big 12. Miller appeared in a good handful of games over the course of his first three years but really made a name for himself starting in 2021. In his first year as a starter, Miller racked up 47 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 13 pass breakups, four interceptions, a forced fumble, and a recovered fumble.

Last year, he backed it up with another strong year. In 13 games, Miller amassed 52 tackles, 0.5 for loss, 10 pass breakups, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and a recovered fumble. Needless to say, losing a player such as Miller will sting.

  • CB Emon Hill (Uncommitted)

The former three-star corner from the 2021 recruiting class, Emon Hill, is on his way out of Kent State after two years. In those two years, Hill’s only appearance was in last year’s win over Bowling Green.

  • DB Jahmad Harmon (Ball State)

Another MAC-to-MAC transfer, Jahmad Harmon is not going very far to resume his college career. He did not spend much time at Kent State considering he was a member of the 2022 recruiting class, and did not appear in any action last year. As a senior in high school, Harmon posted 56 tackles to go with nine pass breakups, three interceptions, and three blocked kicks.

  • SAF Dean Clark (Fresno State)

After four years in the program which included a monster 2021 season, Dean Clark is off to the West Coast. Clark appeared in 12 games as a freshman and all four games in 2020 to account for 34 tackles, three pass breakups, a forced fumble, and an interception as a rotational piece. Then 2021 rolled around and Clark too a massive step forward. He led the team with 116 tackles and added a pair of TFLs and three pass deflections.

Last year, Clark battled injuries and only appeared in four games.

  • SAF JoJo Evans (FIU)

Transferring is not a foreign concept for JoJo Evans. In his first two seasons at the collegiate level, Evans appeared in 17 games for Marshall. In that time, he made 23 tackles and broke up a pass. Last year for the Flashes, Evans was everywhere. He amassed 83 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, three pass breakups, a forced fumble, and an interception.

Evans helped the Kent State defense put up a better fight against Georgia than TCU did in the eventual CFP National Championship with 10 tackles. He’ll be taking his talents to South Beach, joining the FIU Panthers in Miami.

  • SAF Gage Michael (Uncommitted)

Michael has elected to take his chances in the transfer portal after just one year with Kent State. In that year, Michael lined up at safety in nine games where he managed seven tackles. Michael made the switch to safety after lighting it up in high school as a quarterback.

  • K Casey Magyar (Ohio State)

Possibly one of the least inconsequential outgoing transfers, Casey Magyar is off to Ohio State to be a little closer to home. At Kent State, Magyar attempted and made a grand total of one extra point. He’s going from being a scholarship kicker for the Flashes to a walk-on at Ohio State to compete with their room of specialists.

Incoming transfers

  • QB Mike Alaimo (Purdue)

A former four-star recruit is on his way to Kent State in Mike Alaimo. Alaimo spent three years with the Purdue Boilermakers before making the jump. As a recruit, he was the third-best packet-passing quarterback in the 2020 class according to ESPN. At Purdue, Alaimo appeared in a total of four games, passing for 74 yards and adding 28 yards on the ground.

Alaimo goes from one program losing its head coach to another and has two years of eligibility remaining.

  • QB Jaren Lewis (Kansas State)

After four years in the Kansas State program, Jaren Lewis comes to Kent State. The former three-star dual-threat quarterback adds another level to the battle that will commence this fall to take the place of Schlee. Lewis appeared in a total of four games (all in 2021) where he threw for 154 and a score. While at Kansas State, it was noted that Lewis had the strongest arm of the Wildcat quarterbacks.

The Flashes get Lewis with two years of eligibility remaining.

  • RB Jaylen Thomas (Colorado State)

After four years and 33 games played in a reserve role, Jaylen Thomas comes to Kent State from Colorado State. As a true freshman, Thomas was third on the team with 222 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. After not playing at all in 2020, Thomas was a rotational depth piece for the Rams’ offense. In total in those two years, Thomas finished with another 226 yards and two touchdowns.

Thomas has just one year remaining in his collegiate eligibility.

  • RB Ky Thomas (Kansas)

From one Thomas from a Kansas school to another. Ky Thomas (no relation to Jaylen) spent the two years of his career at Minnesota before spending a year at Kansas. At Minnesota, Thomas redshirted in 2020 and ended up leading the way in 2021 after an injury to Mohamid Ibrahim in their first game. In nine games, Thomas ran for 826 yards and six touchdowns.

Then, he elected to take off for Kansas where he ended up as a depth piece. He only ran the ball 53 times for 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He looks to finish strong with the Flashes with two years of eligibility remaining.

  • WR Isaiah Batton (Fresno State)

Hopefully, it’s the third time’s the chart with Isaiah Batton. Out of high school, Batton elected to go the JUCO route and attend Palomar College in California. There, he recorded 311 yards and two touchdowns off of 25 receptions as a tight end. After not playing football in 2020 due to COVID-19, Batton transferred to Fresno State. He redshirted in 2021 and appeared in two games last year without recording in any stats.

Batton gets a fresh start with Kent State and should have two years of eligibility remaining.

  • WR Ali Fisher (Buffalo)

Two uneventful years at Buffalo is enough and Ali Fisher is moving within the division. Fisher spent the last two years the Buffalo but did not see any action. He was a prolific player in high school as he was named Ann Arbor Area Player of the Year as a senior.

Fisher comes to Kent State with three years of eligibility remaining.

  • WR Treymon Echols (Hutchinson C.C.)

Here’s a well-traveled player. Over the last four years, Tremon Echols has spent time at a pair of JUCOs. First, he was with Butler CC for three years where he recorded 239 yards and a touchdown off of 24 receptions in 11 games. Then for 2022, Echols made the move to Hutchinson CC where he amassed 219 yards and two touchdowns off of 15 receptions.

Even with all of that movement, Echols has two years of eligibility remaining for the Flashes.

  • OL Jimto Obidegwu (Temple)

Fortifying the offensive line depth, Jimto Obidegwu comes to Kent State with a fair bit of experience. In his two years at Temple, Obidegwu appeared in 12 games and even recorded a few starts at tackle. Last year he appeared in just four games, thus preserving his redshirt.

He will be able to fight for a role with the Flashes over the next three years.

  • OL Tristen Bittner (Marshall)

After four years at Marshall and only one appearance, Tristen Bittner leaves Marshall for Kent State. His lone appearance came last year.

Even through all of that, Bittner has two years of eligibility for the Flashes.

  • OL Matthew Beyer (Butler C.C.)

Making the jump from the JUCO level to the FBS, Matthew Beyer is a versatile offensive lineman that Kent State will be able to utilize in many ways. At Butler, Beyer was a regular and even played in four of the five positions last year.

Beyer comes to Kent State with at least one year of eligibility remaining.

  • DL Javier Duran (Tarleton State [FCS])

Kent State is going to try and take advantage of a number of players who have made a few stops in their careers and Javier Duran is no different.

Out of high school, Duran attended Independence [KS] Community College and recorded a sack and eight tackles in six games for Jason Brown’s squad. After one year, he jumped to Tarleton State. There, he spent two years and was a regular member of the rotation, appearing in 21 games and racking up 45 tackles, including 7.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks, while knocking down a pass.

As a graduate student, Duran has just one year of eligibility remaining.

  • DL Mason Maddox (Colorado)

From one uber-active program in the transfer portal to another, Mason Maddox comes to Kent State after just one year at Colorado. He was initially a walk-on for the Buffaloes and he only dressed for one game. He did not appear in that game, however. In high school, Maddox broke out in his final two years and racked up 45 tackles and five sacks.

Maddox joins the Flashes with all four years of eligibility remaining.

  • DL Eric Weaver (VMI [FCS])

A regular member of the Keydet defensive line, Eric Weaver comes to Kent State with plenty of experience and productivity in the defensive interior. In five years, Weaver appeared in 40 games and racked up 91 tackles, nine TFLs, two sacks, two forced fumbles, two recovered fumbles, and five pass breakups. He broke out in 2021 and was well on his way in 2022 before suffering a season-ending injury.

Kent State gets Weaver for just one year, but given his experience, he should be expected to contribute right away.

  • EDGE Tyler Baylor (Maryland)

After five years with the Terrapins, Tyler Baylor is looking for a new home in Kent State for his final year. In those five years, Baylor appeared in a total of 37 games. In total, he finished with 26 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, a sack against Penn State, and a recovered fumble.

Baylor will be coming off the edge for Kent State for just 2023 as it is his final year of eligibility.

  • EDGE Mattheus Carroll (Virginia Tech)

Joining Baylor in bolstering the edge rushing depth, Mattheus Carroll comes to town from Virginia Tech. In his first year as a Hokie, Carroll appeared in three games and made a pair of tackles. For 2022, Carroll did not make an appearance, so he’s hoping to make a name for himself with Kent State

The Flashes get Carroll for the three years of eligibility he has remaining.

  • EDGE Marcus Winfield (Delaware State [FCS])

The fifth of five non-FBS transfers comes to Kent State from Delaware State. Marcus Winfield was a regular for the Hornets and looked good over the last two years. Since that 2021 season, Winfield produced to the tune of 33 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, four sacks, a fumble recovery, and a blocked kick.

Winfield has two years of eligibility that he’ll use with the Flashes.

  • LB Nick Giacolone (New Mexico State)

After three years with the Aggies of New Mexico State, Nick Giacolone comes to Kent State. Giacolone appeared in just one game as a freshman in 2020 (albeit, it was an uber-productive game) and then 11 games in each of the last two years. In total, he racked up 80 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, an interception, a forced fumble, two pass breakups, and two recovered fumbles.

Kent State gets Giacolone for two years.

  • LB Devin Nicholson (Missouri)

From the SEC to the MAC, Devin Nicholson is set to battle to make an impact in 2023. For four years, Nicholson was a productive member of the Tigers’ defense, even going so far as to be the second-leading tackler in 2020 (82.) In total, he brings with him 167 tackles, nine TFLs, 3.5 sacks, an interception, three pass deflections, and four forced fumbles.

Kent State may only be getting him for a year, but he is capable of being a difference-maker right out of the gate.

  • CB Xavier Cokley (James Madison)

James Madison was a fun surprise last year and Xavier Cokley comes from the recent FCS-to-FBS promotion. In his three years with the Dukes, Cokley appeared in a grand total of 17 games. In that time, Cokley recorded six tackles, one for loss, and a pass breakup.

Thanks to the free COVID year and the fact that he only appeared in four games last year, Cokley has three years of eligibility remaining.

  • CB Lem Watley-Neely (Indiana)

Lem Watlye-Neely spent three years with Indiana and has come to Kent State for a new beginning. After appearing in just two games as a freshman in 2020 and not at all in 2021, Watley-Neely played in 11 games last year. In his 11 appearances last year, he ended up with nine tackles and a pass breakup.

The Flashes get his services for his remaining three years of eligibility.

  • DB Naim Muhammad (West Virginia)

Playing as the “spear” at West Virginia, Naim Muhammad had experience playing as both a slot corner and in-box safety. Muhammad spent four years as a Mountaineer and appeared in just nine games. In those nine games, he recorded seven tackles, one of which was for loss.

The versatile defensive back has two years of eligibility remaining for the Flashes.

  • DB Jalani Williams (Missouri)

Joining his former Mizzou teammate Nicholson in transferring to Kent State, Jalani Williams comes to town. Williams spent four years with Missouri and was a regular member of the rotation in the last two years. In total, Williams appeared in 33 games, amassing 43 tackles, two TFLs, six pass breakups, and an interception.

He will join the Kent State secondary with two years of eligibility remaining.

  • SAF Dallas Craddieth (Iowa)

If you’re going to poach a reserve from a defense, might as well go for someone in one of the best defenses in the country. Dallas Craddieth spent his four years at Iowa and appeared in just 12 games in total. In that time, he managed just three tackles.

The safety comes to Kent State for his final two years of eligibility.