Day 7: A Look at the Defensive Line
After getting three days off from practice, the Kent State football team returned to Dix Stadium Monday morning for session No. 7.
With the 2012 NFL Draft just over two weeks away, the Golden Flashes hope to see more alumni in training camps this summer. The leading candidate to be drafted is former nose tackle Ish Kitchen (Youngstown, Ohio). However, the standard of excellence Kent State’s defensive line has set in recent years will not change, despite the loss of Kitchen.
Although no one can replace Kitchen’s size, the 2012 defensive line expects to bring plenty of speed, athletic ability and depth at all positions. Dana Brown (McKeesport, Pa.), who enters his senior season, started six games at nose tackle in 2011. He is one of many linemen ready and willing to play wherever he is needed in 2012.
“We’re versatile,” Brown said of the defensive line. “From end, to nose, to tackle, to Leo, we’ve got guys that can that play multiple positions. We’ve got guys that can step in for Ish and Lee (Stalker) and we’ll be ready to play.”
Brown also started 11 games at defensive tackle in 2010 and played in all 12 games as a freshman in 2009. Also spending time in the middle of the line will be 2010 MAC Defensive Player of the Year Roosevelt Nix (Reynoldsburg, Ohio). Nix’s athletic ability is rivaled by 277-pound Richard Gray (Pittsburg, Pa.), who played 12 games at end last season. This spring, Gray is also working in the middle of the line.
“We want to play fast and physical,” Brown said. “This spring is another opportunity to get better so when summer camp comes, we can really click. We’re a lot more comfortable with the coaching staff this year. It’s more like a father-son relationship now.”
Also returning to the line will be senior Jake Dooley (Mason, Ohio), who led the team in sacks (5.0) and was second in tackles for loss (10.5) last season. Juniors Zack Hitchens (Canal Winchester, Ohio) and Mark Fackler (Kenton, Ohio) each played in 12 games at defensive end in 2011.
Looking to play bigger roles this season will be sophomores Carlows Brown (McKeesport, Pa.) and Anthony Pruitt (Columbus, Ohio), who each played in eight games, and Andrew Christopher (Chardon, Ohio), who made four appearances. Redshirt freshman Nate Terhune (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) also looks to get into the rotation this fall. In addition, Kent State will add a 300-pound freshman this summer in Chris Fairchild (Oak Hill, Ohio).
“We’re moving guys around to find the right mix and mesh,” Defensive Coordinator Jon Heacock said. “This year, every player on defense needs to know what the other 10 guys are doing.”
Kent State's Spring Game is set for April 21. Season tickets are on sale now. Call 330-672-2244.