KENT: Sophomore punter Anthony Melchiori appears primed to carry out both punting and kicking duties for Kent State, but Golden Flashes coach Paul Haynes saw a little something Saturday morning in the kick scrimmage that made him think perhaps Melchiori won’t have to take on both roles after all.
Freshman kicker Brad Miller (Germantown) showed a strong and accurate leg, making 7-of-11 field goals from varying distances to help lead the Blue team to a 34-27 victory over the Gold team.
“Brad was kicking well today,” Haynes said. “If he keeps coming along, then the pressure comes off of Anthony a little bit. So I was very pleased with the things Brad did, especially for the first time under pressure.”
Haynes wasn’t backing off his previous statements that Melchiori (who was 6-for-11 on field goals and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run for the Gold team on a fake field goal) is capable of doing both in the 2013 season. He was simply relieved to see a potential Plan B materializing.
“To me, Anthony is a true weapon punting,” Haynes said. “If we can get Brad to continue to come along, then we can take the pressure off [Melchiori] trying to do both.
“Anthony wears his emotions on his sleeve, because he’s such a competitor. That’s awesome, because he’s not the typical kicker in that he can play other positions. So if he has to do both and has a bad kick, it may transfer over to his punting and we don’t want that to happen. In a perfect world, we’d like to have [Miller] kick and [Melchiori] just punt.”
Of course, Melchiori (Aurora) doesn’t mind being a dual player in the upcoming season, should it end up that way.
“I was both punter and kicker in high school, so I’m familiar with handling both jobs,” said Melchiori, who was third in the Mid-American Conference last season as a freshman with a 42.6-yard punting average.
“I’m just trying to be the best place kicker that I can be. It’s hard to follow a player like Freddy Cortez, who is the all-time leading scorer at Kent State. Those are definitely some big shoes to fill. But I also had some big shoes to fill last year when I took over the punting position [from graduating senior Matt Reinhart].”
When it comes to who will do the kicking for the Flashes if Kicker Plan B doesn’t pan out, there is a third option. The Flashes have a couple of scholarships they can use on a junior college player.
“We’re still looking at some kickers, offensive linemen and linebackers,” Haynes said.
In addition to the kickers, a couple of other players took center stage Saturday during the scrimmage.
Senior tight end Tim Erjavec stripped the ball from freshman James Brooks during a punt return down the right sideline and returned it 49 yards for a Blue team touchdown.
After Miller gave the Blue team a 28-27 lead on a 42-yard field goal, sophomore offensive lineman Anthony Pruitt blocked Melchiori’s potential go-ahead 42-yard kick. Senior cornerback Malcom Pannell returned it 66 yards for another Blue touchdown.
“Tim made a special play and Pruitt made a special play,” Haynes said. “That’s what you want to see, guys making special, M.A.D. [Make A Difference] plays. That’s what the kick scrimmage brings out.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.