KENT: Senior Spencer Keith is still the starting quarterback at Kent State.
KSU coach Darrell Hazell, who had brought in junior college transfer David Fisher and freshman Colin Reardon to compete with Keith, made it official after Wednesday’s morning practice.
The competition lasted throughout the three weeks of camp for the Golden Flashes, but Keith kept the job he has held since he was a freshman.
Before the announcement was made, it was apparent that Keith had won the job because he worked exclusively with the first-team offense in practice.
“We’d been going back and forth, it was a hard decision,” Hazell said. “But I think Spencer did a good job of taking care of the ball this camp and making the right decisions to get us in the right plays.”
Keith struggled mightily at the beginning of last season behind a shaky offensive line. But personnel adjustments on the line helped Keith, and the Flashes responded with wins in four of their last five games.
“I knew after the beginning we had last year we were going to bring someone in and have competition,” Keith said. “I was happy with that because competition is always good to make you better. I felt like it definitely has made me better over the spring and fall.”
Hazell said camp started with a two-man competition between Fisher and Keith. Reardon turned it into a three-man race.
“They made the decision extremely hard, they’ve all done a very good job of preparing and putting themselves in the position to be the guy,” Hazell said.
“We started camp off and knew there’d be two guys [Keith and Fisher], then a third guy [Reardon] forced himself into the mix with his playing ability and his learning ability.”
Keith admitted he had a fitful night of sleep Tuesday night, knowing the decision would be announced Wednesday.
“I felt like I performed well enough to get the starting spot, but I wasn’t sure what [Hazell’s] plans were,” Keith said.
Hazell said Fisher will get some playing time early in the season, perhaps even against Towson in the season opener next week.
“We’ll put the whole second group in for a series, especially early in the season so their eyes aren’t so big when they have to go in during a critical situation,” Hazell said. “I’m a firm believer in that.”
Still up for grabs
The last remaining battle for a starting spot is at punter between sophomore Andrew Horning and freshman Anthony Melchiori (Aurora).
“Probably by the back end of this week, probably Saturday, we’ll make a decision on those guys,” said Hazell, who said he’ll also release the team’s depth chart Saturday.
Three captains named
The players and coaches voted three players as team captains: senior left tackle Brian Winters, senior middle linebacker Luke Batton and junior defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix.
Batton’s appointment continues a family tradition. His father, Ben Batton, was a team captain in 1979 and a four-year letter winner also at linebacker.
“We did it a little differently than last year,” Hazell said. “Last year we had two and two on each side of the ball that were only seniors. This year I decided to go one and one and then an extra guy any year and they elected Rosie as the extra guy.”
Wednesday’s practice consisted of walking through 32 scripted plays.
“It was about all the operational things and personnel, making sure everyone’s in tune with what happens throughout the course of a game,” Hazell said. “It was 32 plays of changing situations.”
Wednesday was the official final day of preseason camp, but the Flashes will be back to work on Friday after a day off and will begin preparation for the season opener against Towson.
Ready to go
Junior running back Dri Archer (sprained right ankle) participated fully in Wednesday’s workout.
“If we were playing tomorrow, he’d be ready to play,” Hazell said. “He practiced the perimeter yesterday and looked good and today he was moving around really well.”
Hazell said the biggest surprise of camp was 6-foot, 190-pound sophomore receiver Sam Miller of Orrville.
“He’s the guy that came a long way this fall camp and will really help us,” Hazell said. “He came out of nowhere.”
Another player that made his name known in camp was freshman running back Julian Durden.
“I think we’re gonna have to force five to six carries on Durden right out of the shoot to let him get his feet wet,” Hazell said of the 5-foot-7, 170-pounder from Pennsylvania. “He’s an explosive guy whose fun to be around.”
Others who stood out in preseason to Hazell are junior defensive lineman Richard Gray, senior defensive end Jake Dooley and freshman linebacker Matt Dellinger.
“I think you’re gonna see a lot of him,” Hazell said of the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Dellinger. “He’s a guy to watch.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Kent State 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.