Throughout his time at Miami, Kent Kern has emerged as an important defensive asset for the RedHawks. Kern played in every game his freshman season and started all but one his sophomore year. After earning Second Team All-MAC honors his sophomore season, he again found himself among the top in the MAC for defensive statistics in 2014. This past season, Kern made 69 tackles, good enough to rank 12th for linebackers and 20th among all players. He put up those numbers all while missing the last three games of the season due to a torn labrum suffered against Kent State.
Kern stands at 6-foot-1 and 238 pounds and is quick to get to the ball. While he did play linebacker in high school (Toledo St. John's Jesuit, OH), he doubled as the team's running back. His agility and speed allow him to cover ground and make stops. Before his injury in 2014, Kern stepped up and had notable performances against all of Miami's tough non-conference opponents. This includes 13 tackles in the season opener against Marshall as well as 8 tackles and a fumble recovery at Michigan. Kern's Second Team All-MAC season his sophomore year included five games with double-digit tackles, including 15 versus Cincinnati and 13 at Marshall.
Matt Pawlowski, defensive coordinator and linebacker coach at Miami, commented on his physical strong points. "He is a very physical football player," Pawlowski said. "He's able to get off blocks and make plays. He's a great in-the-box mike linebacker and his physicality shows up every single play."
Kern's physicality is obviously important, but his mental approach and ability make him that much more talented. Pawlowski also spoke highly of Kern's mental strength. "He takes great pride in his mental preparation," said Pawlowski. "He understands things that are going to happen because of his film studies and practice habits." When he tore his labrum late last season, he took every mental rep. Pawlowski noted Kern was at every meeting and every practice making sure that, while not able to be in pads, he could still find ways to get better.
Questions surround Kern because of a history with labrum issues. He has missed the previous two spring sessions due to this problem. While he is coming off another labrum tear, Kern proved last season that he was able to bounce back and contribute. Kern has shown plenty of skill when he has been on the field, so the biggest concern leading into 2015 is keeping him on that field for the entirety of the schedule. If that happens, all signs point to Kern having another fine season serving as a significant part of the RedHawks' backfield.