KENT: Kent State junior receiver Eric Adeyemi has his cousin, Golden Flashes sophomore defensive back Fabrice Pratt, to thank for bringing him to KSU.
Pratt suggested that the Flashes would be a good situation for the 6-foot, 182-pound Adeyemi, who was looking to transfer from the University of Kentucky.
“I was looking for a better opportunity to play,” said Adeyemi, a state track champion at Southridge High School in Miami. “Being here with Fabrice is like being close to home, especially with a couple other guys on the team from the Miami area. But mainly, I just wanted to start over, just get a fresh start.”
As a freshman with the Wildcats, Adeyemi’s career got off to a fast start as he played in all 13 games, including three starts. He caught 13 passes for 108 yards. His best performance came in the Liberty Bowl, where he had two receptions for 31 yards as Kentucky rallied to defeat East Carolina 25-19.
In his sophomore season Adeyemi played in just three games, with five catches for 41 yards.
“My sophomore year I don’t know what happened,” he said with a shrug.
It didn’t take long for Adeyemi to realize that a change of scenery was needed. After a conversation with Pratt, he began considering Kent State.
“I didn’t know anything about Kent State,” Adeyemi said. “Without my cousin, I wouldn’t be here. I owe him a lot.”
In December 2009, Adeyemi posted this message on his Facebook page:
“It’s time for ‘EA’ to say good bye to Kentucky football…it was a lot of fun and memories…NEXT STOP?…WHO KNOWS…MAYBE WKU, KENT STATE.. OR PROBABLY UAB!!!!! (LOL)”
Not knowing much about Kent State other than what Pratt had shared, Adeyemi did what anyone would do these days — he logged on to the Internet and did some research.
“I looked at [KSU’s] recent history, at the last time we won a championship — 1972!,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a long time ago.’ But I had a positive mind-set about everything. I thought, ‘If I come here, I could contribute and help the team win the [Mid-American Conference] championship and become bowl eligible.’ ”
Adeyemi transferred and sat out last season per NCAA regulations, watching from the sideline as the Flashes struggled to a 5-7 record, 4-4 in the MAC. When coach Doug Martin resigned at the end of the season, Adeyemi’s fate was again back up in the air.
“My first thought was, ‘Uh oh, I’m in trouble,’ ” he said. “With a new head coach and a new receivers coach, I didn’t know what to expect. So I had a big question mark for a long time.”
Then he met new Flashes coach Darrell Hazell, who left his job as receivers coach at Ohio State to take his first head coaching position at Kent State in mid-December. Soon, he was introduced to new Flashes receivers coach Thad Jemison, a former Buckeyes receiver.
“And here they are wide receiver gurus,” Adeyemi said with a laugh. “I mean, with coach Hazell, you can go down the line in the NFL and see the receivers he’s worked with.”
Now as preseason camp comes to a close Friday, Adeyemi and junior Tyshon Goode are listed on the depth chart as the top two receivers heading into the season opener Sept. 3 at No. 2 Alabama. Behind the pair are fifth-year seniors Chris Gilbert and Sam Kirkland.
“Eric’s an exciting player to watch,” Goode said. “From the day he got here last year — just watching him run back punts and things [in practice]. He just needs a little bit of amount of space to make a move, and he’s gone in a flash. He’s a great teammate to have and he definitely complements the group of receivers we have.”
With Hazell’s offensive game plan to open up the offense and spread the field, Adeyemi could very well have the perfect home.