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2023 Kent State Golden Flashes Positional Previews: Offensive Line

Kent State retools its entire starting offensive line to start the Kenni Burns era.

NCAA Football: Kent State at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Kent State must start from square one in a plethora of areas in 2023.

The Golden Flashes’ offseason saw more changes than almost any program in college football, starting with initial domino of head coach Sean Lewis accepting the Colorado offensive coordinator job.

When Lewis departed for the Rocky Mountains to pursue a gig on Deion Sanders’ staff, so did Kent State offensive line coach Bill O’Boyle, who served the Golden Flashes from 2018-22. And when O’Boyle relocated, so did his linemen. Starting left guard Jack Bailey and starting right tackle Savion Washington both transferred to Colorado and are expected to man the trenches for a new-look Buffaloes squad.

Starting left tackle Marcellus Marshall was Kent State’s lone First Team All-MAC lineman, but this offseason, he transferred to UCF to join the new Big 12 program. Center Sam Allan attained Second Team All-MAC honors but witnessed his eligibility expire. And finally, starting right guard Elijah Ratliff was another departing senior whose eligibility exhausted.

It’s time to start anew in Kent, OH.

First-year head coach Kenni Burns hired Matt Limegrover as his co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach in January. Limegrover spent the previous two seasons as an offensive assistant at Arkansas State, conducting both the offensive line and tight end position groups. His offensive line coach experience in the FBS also includes Northern Illinois, Minnesota, and Penn State. Despite coaching at Minnesota, Limegrover never crossed paths with Burns and this is their first simultaneous intersection on a coaching staff.

Limegrover’s first offensive line at Kent State won’t be an experienced unit — collectively amassing just four FBS starts.

Elijah Lamptey is the most established member of the Golden Flashes’ offensive line and the only incumbent member exhibiting starting experience. Lamptey was present on the field in 10 of Kent State’s 12 contests last year, starting both the opener in Washington and the season finale in Buffalo at right tackle.

Nolan Rumler and Cameron Golden are the two other returning linemen with ample experience on the gridiron. Rumler, a Kent, OH native and former Michigan transfer, played 6 games last season and should vault into a starting role on the interior this year given the unit’s mass exodus. Golden, a former Georgia State transfer, racked up eight games of experience last year and could earn his first collegiate start this fall, given the chaotic depth chart changes this offseason.

Josh Prusinowski is a sophomore with very limited playing experience, first debuting in Kent State’s 40-6 rivalry win over Bowling Green last November. The offensive line room is very sophomore-heavy, but many of these members — Nick Bryan, Dustyn Morell, Mason Mennell, and Garrett Masterson — have yet to see action with the offense. But given the degree of youth on this offensive line, several members of this group could see a significant spike in utilization this season.

Kent State landed three FBS transfers to bolster offensive line depth, headlined by Jimto Obidegwu from Temple. Obidegwu participated in four games over two seasons in Philadelphia, logging one start at guard and another at tackle — demonstrating positional versatility. The other two incoming transfers are seeking their first exposure to playing time at their new home. Kevin Toth joins the program after spending two seasons at Rutgers without handling an offensive snap. Additionally, Tristen Bittner transferred in from Marshall after two seasons with the Thundering Herd, but he has yet to see the field at the FBS level.

Matthew Beyer comes in as a transfer from the community college level. At Butler Community College in Kansas, Beyer rotated across four positions on the offensive line and was named an all-conference selection. That experience could be leveraged into a potential starting role, if he proves himself in fall camp.

Rounding out the newcomers are the true freshmen on the roster, which include Chris Farrell, Braylon Smith, Cecil Wilson, Evan Cooke, and Andrew Page.

Projecting the starting offensive line for Kent State is difficult given the lack of continuity on the roster and among the coaching staff. Ratliff’s starting experience at right tackle makes that position the most surefire bet. Rumler is a likely starter at center or guard and Golden could crack into the lineup as well. Among the transfers, Obidegwu is the most likely to assume a first team role within the offense — most likely at tackle. The final spot on the front five could come down to a multitude of inexperienced returners or incoming transfers, but Beyer is certainly a name to keep an eye on in Kent State’s revamped o-line rotation.