KENT: Dri Archer did what he was told to do.
He re-took the class he was supposed to — Black Experience — as he’d been advised.
So it was as much a surprise to Archer as his coaches and teammates when it was learned last summer that he’d been ruled academically ineligible to play with the Golden Flashes last season.
“It was a shock to me,” said the 5-foot-8 Archer, whose 40-yard dash (4.3 seconds) is the fastest on the team.
“One day my adviser just called me and told me that I was ruled ineligible because of some hour rule or something. I re-took a class and those hours didn’t count toward my degree, so I ended up being a couple hours short … I’d taken the class, came back and then they said my hours didn’t count.
“It was tough, especially in the beginning. I didn’t know what to do with myself. … football is everything for me.”
Losing Archer was a blow to the Flashes’ offense.
“He was the one guy who, when we got here, we went, ‘Wow!’?” coach Darrell Hazell said. “He was a difference-maker. So when we learned we didn’t have him, I was like, ‘oh man, we could have really used him.’?”
In hindsight, Archer, a native of Florida, admits he shouldn’t have let his eligibility come down to such a slight margin of error.
“Now I know better,” he said. “It was a lesson learned.”
Just to be sure, Hazell made sure to check in with Archer recently.
“I talked to him [Wednesday] and he’s doing excellent in his classes,” Hazell said. “I told him, ‘you better not be teasing me now.’ ”
With his academics in line during spring camp, Archer is poised to make up for missing last season by serving a dual role.
“[Archer] working out of the slot gives you so many different things you can do,” Hazell said. “He just brings so much of a bigger dimension. You haven’t seen half the package yet, but he’s going to be in the backfield and be split out in the slot. He’s a nice weapon to have.”
Archer is excited to take on expanded duties, but he knows the learning curve is steep.
“The tough part of it is trying to learn my assignments at both positions,” he said. “I’ve got to work doubly hard because I had a year off and now I’m step behind everybody. So in my free time, I come in and try to learn all the plays.”
Archer was still able to practice last season with the Flashes and stand on the sideline during home games. When his teammates were on the road, he’d watch the game on the internet or listen to the radio broadcast in his off-campus apartment.
“I paid attention to every game,” he said. “I’d sit and watch or listen until something bad happened. Then I’d pace around going, ‘what are they doing?’ It was rough. It made it even worse [when the running game struggled] because I knew I should have been out there helping.”
Luckily for Archer, Hazell considers running back to be a spot that a player can easily bounce back from after missed time.
“[Running back] is the one position where you can play freshmen and they can get caught up quickly, or you can play guys that red-shirted or sat out a year,” he said. “It’s a very adaptable position. If they can pick up the pass-protection schemes, they’re naturals with the ball in their hands.”
It’s been that way for Archer since he began playing football at age 6.
“My first year I was a quarterback,” he said. “Then everyone realized how fast I could run. I’ve been a back ever since.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Flashes blog at https://ohio.com/blogs/kent-state. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.