HERSHEY, PA: Kent State football may not be seeing orange this bowl season. But recruits are already seeing a greener future for the Golden Flashes.
Lancaster Catholic (Lancaster, Pa.) senior running back Roman Clay verbally committed to Kent State Friday, hours before the Golden Flashes played in the Mid-American Conference Championship game.
“It was the winning that kind of sold me. They were (other) great schools and I would have loved to play for any of them. But the winning at Kent State, got me sold,” Clay said Friday night at Hersheypark Stadium, where he was in attendance for the District 3, Class AAA championship game between Bishop McDevitt and West York.
The 5-10, 215-pound senior, three-star recruit, is well aware of the Kent State’s hollow football history, but sees nothing but positives going forward as Kent State readies for its first bowl game since 1973.
“After talking with my mom, I realized it was a great opportunity for me. Their football team is on the rise and I just wanted to be a part of something special,” Clay said. “The thing is, they are going to keep winning with Coach (Darrell) Hazell making the calls. Hopefully he stays and I can have a great time playing for him.”
Last year, Clay helped lead Lancaster Catholic to its second Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association “AA” state title in three years by rushing for 1,899 yards and a school-record 32 touchdowns. The 5-10, 215-pound back rushed for about 2,440 yards and 30 touchdowns this season.
Kent State’s rushing-intensive offense this season was also appealing to Clay. Junior Dri Archer and sophomore Trayion Durham each rushed for over 1,000 yards this year for the Flashes.
Clay received his offer early on from Kent State and also had offers from at least five others, including UMass, Towson and Delaware. After a Sept. 1 performance where Clay set a district 3 rushing record with 442 yards and six touchdowns on 22 carries against Dallastown (Pa.), Clay began to grab even more attention.
He visited Penn State in Oct. and visited UCONN too, but was already leaning toward Kent State after his visit on Sept. 28.
“I had a great time,” Clay said. “The coaches there love me. The atmosphere was crazy. The football players were real nice. I just loved everything about it. I just knew it was the place for me and I felt at home when I was there.”
The influence of coach Hazell was also clear.