KENT: If not for the common sense of coach Darrell Hazell, Kent State’s Blue Team would have gone into Saturday’s spring game against the Gold Team playing with just four offensive lineman.
That’s what happens when a mistake is made in a real football draft. However, it being KSU’s second annual Blue-Gold Mock Draft, it’s a mistake that can be easily remedied.
“I thought the Blue Team made a big mistake by not getting the fifth offensive lineman,” Hazell said after his team enjoyed Wednesday morning’s draft that allowed the seniors to pick teams for the game that signals the end of spring camp.
“I don’t know if the Blue Team [realized it was a lineman short] while they were selecting, but I’m going to fix that,” Hazell said. “There won’t be a trade. I’ll just tell the Gold Team they have to give up the last offensive lineman taken.”
The players attempted to remedy the big problem after the draft was completed when there was an opportunity for each side to make a trade. Even though both teams put a trade offer on the table (including the Gold Team offering a lineman), each team’s offer was rebuffed.
“We just figured they’d have to make a trade or just struggle through the game, and they chose to struggle,” explained senior tackle Kent Cleveland, receiving a loud round of applause before the group learned Hazell already had a plan to even out the offensive lines.
Unbeknownst to the players, Hazell also had a hand in separating the Golden Flashes’ top two quarterbacks before the draft began at 10:15 a.m.
“Most people in the room didn’t know it, but I put in certain stipulations,” he said.
On Wednesday, when the coaches separated the team’s seniors into the two groups, Hazell made sure to split up potential starting quarterbacks, senior Spencer Keith and junior college newcomer David Fisher.
“I wanted to see Spence and Fish compete one more time [against each other this spring],” he said.
In what initially appeared to be another mistake, sophomore sensation Trayion Durham slipped to third among the running backs selected. However, Hazell revealed afterward that it was due to Durham being “doubtful” to play Saturday due to an unspecified injury.
“It would have been a risk to take him being unsure if he’s going to play. So, I wouldn’t have taken him either,” Hazell said.
Also expected to sit out Saturday’s game with injuries are defensive linemen Dana Brown and Anthony Pruitt, offensive linemen Brian Winters, Jason Bitsko, Shawn Wheeler and Tyler Arend, linebacker Luke Batton and defensive back Fabrice Pratt.
The main point of conducting a draft is to have some fun, and Hazell was amused at how the teams ended up being chosen.
“It’s interesting to see what the guys think they need the most,” Hazell said. “Really, it’s all about the number of guys at each position and trying to block the other team from certain positions if there’s a limited amount of people at that position.”
Hazell said the format of Saturday’s game includes two 12-minute quarters with a regular clock. The last two quarters will be 10 minutes with a 12-minute halftime in between.
“All kicks and quarterbacks will be live,” Hazell said. “But we won’t rush the punter.”
O’Banion named coach
Kent State made its worst-kept secret official Wednesday afternoon, announcing the hiring of women’s basketball coach Danielle O’Banion. The athletic department will formally introduce the former Memphis assistant at a news conference scheduled for today at 1 p.m. on the main floor of the M.A.C. Center.
O’Banion replaces longtime Golden Flashes coach Bob Lindsay, whose contract was not renewed in March by Athletic Director Joel Nielsen. Lindsay left with a Mid-American Conference-record 418 wins in 23 seasons at the helm of the Flashes.
O’Banion takes over at KSU following a four-year stint at Memphis, including the last two as associate head coach. She comes to Kent State with the reputation of being a proven national recruiter. An Arlington, Va., native, O’Banion served as the Tigers’ designated recruiting coordinator and helped to sign three nationally ranked recruiting classes.
In O’Banion’s 10 seasons overall as an assistant coach, she has been part of nine postseason teams, including a Final Four and two Sweet 16 berths at Minnesota (2003-07). O’Banion has also been a part of two other first-round NCAA appearances with the Gophers and another while at Harvard in 2002.
Kent State welcomes students, faculty, staff and the general public to attend today’s news conference. It can also be viewed online at https://ksutube.kent.edu/watchlive.php?playthis=0444.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Flashes blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.