KENT: Heisman campaigns aren’t reserved only for the gifted athletes playing at major football powerhouses anymore.
This season, Kent State’s versatile Dri Archer has gotten into the mix. The reigning Mid-American Conference East Division champion Golden Flashes kicked off their Dri4Heisman campaign last week, mixing an old-school approach in with today’s gamut of social media options.
“It’s pretty cool, I’m impressed,” the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Archer said. “They started a lot with the Twitter account [@Dri4Heisman], Facebook page and comic strip for the campaign. It’s pretty unique. I can’t wait to see [the comic strip] every week; it’s really going to be something to look forward to.”
Archer isn’t involved in developing the content for the comic strip that will be illustrated by Akron resident Chuck Ayers of Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean fame.
“I’ve seen some of the pictures they’ve drawn up,” Archer said. “But besides that, I’ll find out when everyone else does. I can’t wait to see what it looks like.”
The Dri4Heisman campaign is less than a week old, but already Archer is seeing it take off successfully.
“Twitter, Facebook, Instagram — all that stuff — ever since it started on July 31, it’s been going off nonstop,” Archer said. “Newspaper [reporters] are calling me, people are texting me about newspaper articles back home, so it’s definitely out now.”
Archer was the nation’s leader in rushing yards per carry (9.0) and kick return average (36.9) and was KSU’s receiving leader last season. Archer returned three kickoffs 98 yards or more for touchdowns in his first five games.
“The Heisman campaign wasn’t really the main focus in talking to him about staying for his senior season,” first-year KSU coach Paul Haynes said. “Telling him, ‘You come back and we’ll put a Heisman thing on?’ Nah, that wasn’t the whole case, that was just a part of it.”
That being said, Haynes doesn’t think Kent State’s campaign to promote Archer as one of college football’s best players is too far off the mark, either.
“When you talk about the true essence of the award, it’s about the best college football player,” Haynes said. “Not the best college football player on the best team. So, to me, the whole thing is legit.”
In addition to serving as a running back, receiver and kick returner like Archer did last season in Kent State’s historic 11-3 season after which the Flashes played in their first bowl game in 40 years, Haynes has increased Archer’s role.
Archer will also return punts during the upcoming season that will kick off Aug. 29 against Liberty University at Dix Stadium.
“He’s returning punts for sure,” Haynes said. “In addition to being at running back and wide receiver just like last year, we want to think outside of the box also. Not necessarily with trick plays, but we’ll make some base plays where maybe he’s at different spots.”
Is the additional role and a Heisman campaign going to be too much for Archer?
“Everyone’s been asking me if it’s hard with folks putting so much focus on him,” Haynes said. “I would be concerned if it were somebody not like Dri. But Dri is very humble. He goes to work every day and you would never know that he’s such a great player without watching him, just because of who he is. He doesn’t say a word, he just blends in.
“So, I’m not worried about it at all. Somebody use to tell me that when you’re good, you never have to talk about yourself because everybody else is talking about you. And that’s just really him. Dri doesn’t say anything, he just lets everybody else talk about him.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Aeros blog at http://www.ohio.com/aeros. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/sports.abj.