August 12, 2008

Freshmen strut their stuff

With one week of fall camp in the books, Kent State head coach Doug Martin couldn't be happier with the progress of his team. With 42 returning letter winners, and 14 starters as well as both specialists, the Golden Flashes have quickly installed the offensive and defensive game plans.

"I think we're ahead of where we've been in the past because of the maturity and all the experienced guys we have," Martin said. "We were able to install the offense and the defense a lot faster."

Being ahead of the game entering week two of camp, Martin and his staff had the chance Monday morning to take a look at many of the players that will fill out the depth chart.

"What we're trying to do now is catch up the third year and the freshmen, try to identify who we're going to play and who we're going to redshirt," he said. "That's why we scrimmaged them this morning."

The scrimmage included all the true freshmen as well as many of the players who were redshirted last fall and several transfers. Those players made the most of their opportunity on the playing field.

As he has throughout the early parts of camp, freshman running back Jacquise Terry, a 6-foot, 180-pounder from Phenix, Ala., impressed Martin.

"He's doing that in the older practices too," Martin said. "He's making plays and doesn't make many mental busts and he's taking care of the football. He's really natural at catching the ball too, that's probably why he's a little bit ahead. He's got real nice hands."

Martin also mentioned Terry's classmate, quarterback Matt Hurdle, a 6-foot-3, 190-pounder from Richmond, Va.

"I really like Matt Hurdle running; he showed some stuff," Martin said. "He's got some mechanic things we have to work on throwing the ball, but he's going to be a really good quarterback, good athlete guy."

Hurdle rushed five times for just about 25 yards, but it was efficiency running the speed option that really caught Martin's eye.

"He did a nice job of not taking hits too," Martin said. "He ran the speed option, got down and two defensive guys blew each other up trying to catch him. He's got a natural feel for that."

Unlike the first week of camp, Hurdle wasn't wearing the red jersey that protects quarterbacks from being hit in practice. That allowed Hurdle to utilize the skills that earned him a scholarship to Kent State. It also gave the defense what they've asked for-and likely won't look for an encore.

"All those defensive linemen want the redshirt off until you really do it, then they realize they can't catch him," Martin said.

Several other freshmen played well enough to warrant consideration for being part of the active roster this fall.

"Josh Kline, the center, he maybe will help us this year. He's a guy we identified as being a guy, along with (tight end) Justin Thompson on the offensive side," Martin said. "Defensively, Josh Pleasant we really like a lot (in the secondary). We think he can help us. (Defensive lineman) Ryan Jude is definitely going to help us. It was encouraging."

The Golden Flashes return to the practice field at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, when they will conduct an intra-squad scrimmage.


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