March 25, 2009

Top 10 Impact players for 2009

For the last few years, staffers at Kent Sports Reports have had this season
circled, highlighted and sprinkled with flashy glitter.

In other words, this is the year we have been waiting for. Eugene Jarvis is
a senior. Giorgio Morgan is a redshirt sophomore with playing experience and
a big arm. The defense has most of its players back. The offensive line is
intact, other than Augustus Parrish. The wide receivers are relatively taller,
and Doug Martin has retooled the coaching staff.

Coupled with a handful of coaching changes in the Mid-American Conference,
and this could be the year. But who are the players that will get it done?
Who are the 10 players who will have the biggest impact as we head into spring
football? Some may be obvious, others not so:


10. Matt Rinehart, Sophomore, Punter

Most programs would blush if the punter was listed as an impact player,
but at Kent State fans are just happy if the punts move forward and not
backwards. Rinehart was up and down last season, but for the most part
he was solid. However, nothing is for sure when it comes to second-year
kickers at Kent State. As we saw last season with Ball State, a powerful
offense, which the Flashes should have, and a big leg punter can take you

9. Danny Sadler, Senior, Cornerback

Sadler showed signs of stardom at times last season. He had a solid summer
and as he enters his senior year he should be penciled in as a starter.
He is a physical corner and should be important in the coverage systems
that new corner back coach Richard McNutt is bringing. Last season, Doug
Martin talked about playing more man defense. That could again be the case
in 2009.

8. Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, Sophomore,
Defensive Tackle

Coaches were pretty happy with his improvement during the season. Kitchen
is the largest defensive lineman on the roster and can take up a lot of
blockers. Kent State missed Colin Ferrell a ton last season--Kitchen's
development can fill that void. In what could be weak year for running
backs in the MAC, stopping the run is a huge baby step towards a top defense.
Kitchen enters the spring listed second on the depth chart behind senior
Aaron Hull, but expect the sophomore to push for the job. He'll
see plenty of time regardless.

7. Kevin Hogan, Senior, Defensive

He should be in the mix for preseason all MAC. Then again, I said that
about a lot players last season and it didn't pan-out (Monte
Simmons). Hogan has the size and strength to be a rusher and get
a lot of sacks. If he stays healthy and gets to the quarterback, some
experts could throw his name in at the next level to play linebacker.
We'll have to see. Juniors Cobrani Mixon, Brian Lainhart
and Will Johnson were three other players I had slotted at No.7.
But a great pass rusher tops a top tackler, an experienced safety and
a safety moving to linebacker.

6. Josh Pleasant, Sophomore, Cornerback/Kick

Josh Pleasant was the most fun guy to watch on the field when returning
kicks--during practice. Pleasant could be a game changer this season with
his combination of speed and his ability to make people miss. He has more
experience now in his sophomore season and coaches would be crazy not use
him when it comes to returning kicks. He enters the spring slotted as the
starter at halfback on defense.

5. The Left Tackle

Augustus Parrish was solid. Maybe a bit overrated at times, but solid.
Replacing him will be extremely difficult. Martin has always been a guy
who mixes up his blockers, so I wouldn't be surprised to see several
players get a shot at the job. Redshirt freshman Kent Cleveland
enters the spring slotted at the top of the depth chart here, but he'll
be pushed by classmate Josh Kline and sophomore Michael Paige.
One thing is sure: This team has options on the line.

4. Kendrick Pressley, Sophomore, Wide

Yes, I know he looks as if he'll be another undersized wide receiver,
but Pressley played well in the games he played in last season. He has
play-making ability that has been sorely missed at the WR position over
the course of Doug Martin's tenure. Pressley could change that. I
could have put senior Jameson Konz here, but I probably would have listed
him No.1 last season, and it jinxed him. No doubt that Konz is good, but
can he stay healthy? Can Pressley? If the Flashes do try to open the passing
game up, Pressley will be a factor, but he was the right player for last
year's offense.

3. Nate Reed, Senior, Kicker

The poster boy for inconsistency, Nate Reed goes through phases. Kent
State cannot afford that this year. It's tough to place the blame
on anyone when it comes to game losses, but Reed missed a lot of kicks
in crucial times. The crazy thing is that when Reed is good, he is one
of the best kickers in the MAC. He can hit 40-plus yard field goals when
he is on. It's a confidence thing with him. As for kickoffs, Kent
State cannot afford to do that squib type play they ran last year. Why
kick it short? Boot it into the end zone if you can. That's a coaching

2. Eugene Jarvis, Senior, Running Back

All the hype last season, but after a disappointing, injury filled junior
year, Jarvis should be ready to carry the rock. He should be pretty fresh
with Jacquise Terry and Andre Flowers in the backfield.
Jarvis will be going for the school record in rushing yards this season.
I may be on the other end here, but I say give the ball to Jarvis as
much as you can. We know what he can do when they give the ball to him.
He can create a passing game. Subbing him too much could hurt his style.

1. Giorgio Morgan, Sophomore, Quarterback

It has to be him, doesn't it? Considering the hoopla over him this
time last season, Morgan could finally be ready to start. Morgan will be
the starter. I don't see Anthony Magazu winning the job
and redshirt freshman Matt Hurdle moved to wide receiver.. Morgan's
arm gives the offense something it missed with the gutsy Julian Edelman
behind center. Morgan's speed makes losing Edelman easier to take.
Let's not forget what Morgan did in his first career start. He threw
for three touchdowns and more than 250 yards.

Click here for the spring 2009 depth chart.


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