March 30, 2009

Flashes deep at RB

During spring practice 2009, Kent State head coach Doug Martin will have a lot to keep an eye on.

Will redshirt sophomore quarterback Giorgio Morgan pick up where he left off before an injury shortened his freshman season, or will the veteran, Anthony Magazu, emerge as the lead signal caller? Who will replace outstanding linebacker Derek Burrell? Will the Golden Flashes' special teams unit take a necessary step forward?

With a lot on his plate, Martin at least doesn't have to worry about the running position.

Headlining Kent State's corps of running backs is 2007 All-Mid-American Conference performer Eugene Jarvis.

The 5-foot-5, 170-pound senior enters his fourth season as the starter at the position and he's within reach of a couple of team rushing records. Jarvis needs just 250 carries and 722 rushing yards to become Kent State's all-time leader in career carries and yards (Astron Whatley currently holds both records).

Jarvis shouldn't have a problem eclipsing 722 rushing yards, as his three-year low was 798 yards in 2006 as a redshirt freshman. But, getting to 250 carries might be a problem, especially with a loaded backfield.

Junior Andre Flowers and sophomore Jacquise Terry combined to carry the ball 114 times for 489 yards (4.23 yards per carry) last fall. Both should see an increase in their workload this season, as the Golden Flashes not only attempt to keep Jarvis fresh, but look to replace the 215 carries and 1,370 yards produced by quarterback Julian Edelman.

Edelman, who rushed 502 times for 2,483 yards in his three-year career, has graduated. That leaves a void in the rushing game. Morgan showed some ability to run the ball in his two starts in 2007, but neither he nor Magazu possesses the big-play potential of Edelman.

That's where Jarvis and Co. comes in.

Jarvis has the same big-play ability flashed by Edelman, and Flowers is a bigger back with speed. Add in Terry, whose nickname is "Speedy," and the Golden Flashes have a three-headed monster at running back as good as any in the conference.

A fourth option now exists. Junior Alan Vanderink moved from wide receiver to running back this spring, and immediately he becomes one of the best pass-catching backs on the roster. In 22 games at Kent State, Vanderink has hauled in 22 passes for 262 yards and two scores.

At Crestwood High School in nearby Mantua, Vanderink was even more dangerous. He completed his career with 3,826 yards of offense and 51 touchdowns. He rushed for 2,047 yards and 24 touchdowns on 197 carries as a senior, so he's no stranger to carrying the football.

Doug Martin might have a lot on his plate this spring, but with four hungry options at running back, the sixth year head coach won't have to worry about who carries the football this fall.

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