Coming into National Signing Day, not much was known about the Kent State football class of 2014. Only 13 players were confirmed verbals according to 247Sports, and it was easily one fo the worst classes on paper. But come Signing Day, some gaps were filled and when it was all said and done the Flashes, and head coach Paul Haynes, signed 20 members to the 2014 class.
Kent State is losing some significant pieces from its team. Gone are All-American Dri Archer, 4-time All-MAC DT Roosevelt Nix, and several other key pieces. What's left is a team that went 4-8 (3-5 MAC) and vastly underperformed. All in all it meant Haynes had his work cut out for him with this recruiting class, but with a lack of any big-time talent (only two 3-stars signed with this class) it's fair to say he didn't quite live up to expectations.
The Flashes did a good job of pulling in local talent. Fifteen players in all are from the state of Ohio, but the team failedto make any real home run signings. Even worse, 3-Star linebacker Reggie Howard had been committed to the Flashes, but opted instead to go with walking on to Cincinnati.
Here's a look at the class as a whole:
|George Bollas||Aurora, Ohio (Aurora)||PRO-QB||2-Star||6'3''/200/lb||Yes|
|Shayne Hynes||Clarkston, MI (Clarkston)||K||2-Star||5'9''/140lb||Yes|
|Miles Hibbler||Troy, Ohio (Troy)||RB||2-Star||5'10''/190lb|
|Stefano Millin||Massillon, Ohio (Pery)||OT||2-Star||6'4''/250lb||Yes|
|Colin Prouty||Dresden, Ohio (Tri-Valley)||OT||NR||6'5''/280lb|
|Connor Shinsky||Saxonburg, PA (Knoch)||OT||2-Star||6'6''/249lb|
|Zaquon Tyson||Miami, FL (Norlan High School)||WR||2-Star||6'0''/170|
|James Alexander||Miami, FL (Miami Jackson)||OLB||2-Star||5'11''/200lb|
|Eldin Anu||Westerville, Ohio||CB||NR||5'10''/170lb|
|Jon Cunningham||Bedford, Ohio (Bedford)||DT||NR||6'0''/265lb|
|Marcus Elliott||Toledo, Ohio (Whitmer)||S||2-Star||6'0''/190lb||Yes|
|Jarrell Foster||Cincinnati, Ohio (Winton Woods)||CB||3-Star||5'11''/175lb||Yes|
|Luke Grandjean||Canton, Ohio (Hoover)||S||2-Star||6'2''/185lb||Yes|
|Reggie Howard||Cincinnati, Ohio (Withrow)||MLB||3-Star||6'4''/225lb||Yes|
|Marques Moore||Springfield, Ohio (Springfield)||LB||2-Star||6'2''/200lb|
|Kalil Morris||Columbus, Ohio (Bishop Hartley)||DE||2-Star||6'3''/225lb||Yes|
|Quan Robinson, Jr.||Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville)||CB||NR||6'1''/170lb|
|Erik Simpson||Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville)||S||2-Star||6'0''/185lb|
|Zack Singer||Las Vegas, NV (Bishop Gorman)||DT||3-Star||6'2''/280lb||Yes|
|Matthew Sommers||Kent, Ohio (Roosevelt)||LB||NR||6'2''/220lb|
Kent State focused about even on defense and offense. The Flashes did get some signings at defensive tackle, a key area of focus, including one of the team's two 3-star signings. But offensive skill positions were a let down. In fact the best rated player on offense was a kicker, which Kent State didn't even need.
If you were to focus on two players to look out for though, it would be Zach Singer and Jarrell Foster, a pair of good defensive players that Flashes fans should be excited about. Singer, a 3-star defensive tackle, has great size and athleticism. He's larger than Roosevelt Nix was, but isn't that kind of overly large, soft-bodied player many defensive tackles are. Foster, a 3-star cornerback, is a slightly smaller corner at just 5-11, 175 pounds, but possess good speed and can hang in man coverage.
The areas the team focused the hardest on was offensive line and cornerback/secondary. The Flashes are bringing in three cornerbacks and three safeties, which should go a long way towards bolstering the Flashes secondary for future seasons, even if few actually see the field this season. The offensive lineman are all of the more project style. Conor Shinsky and Stefano Millan each possess solid height, but weigh a combined 499, so there's a lot of growing they'll need to do to avoid being pushed around on the line and to provide adequate blocking for Kent State's ground game, and second-year quarterback Colin Reardon, who was sacked just 10 times in 2013 but is losing some protection on the line. A third o-line signee, Colin Prouty has good size at 6'5'', 280-pounds, but is one of those unranked, unknown commodities that the Flashes filled their class out with this season. Then there's also Nathan Puthoff, another lineman with good size, who's coming off an All-Ohio first-team selection in his senior season.
The Flashes also added a 2-Star quarterback out of Aurora High School (Aurora, Ohio), George Bollas who isn't a bad pickup either, and certainly adds depth to the roster, but will likely need a few years to develop.
The big picture takeaway from this class was it filled some holes, but with a lot of unknowns and is overall lacking in high-caliber talent. No one was expecting any 4-Star recruits here, but an impact player or two on offense that could contribute right away, and another 3-Star defensive lineman were really needed, and they didn't materialize. Haynes was out-recruited by coaches who had mere weeks to put together a class, which should cause some worry for Kent State fans. Factor in the talent gone from the roster, and the fact that Kent State is likely going to finish below .500 for a second-straight season, and this class becomes even more worrisome.
OFFICIAL HUSTLE BELT GRADE: C-