Youngstown Vindicator: Poland graduate Luke Wollet is working to move Kent State football
By Joe Scalzo, Youngstown Vindicator
When Luke Wollet was asked about the challenge of playing college football, he mentioned the increased speed, the complex schemes and the daily competition.
But his biggest adjustment may have come in the standings.
In three years of playing varsity football at Poland, Wollet went 26-10. In less than a year and a half at Kent State, he’s gone 6-10.
“We’re trying to change the culture around here,” said Wollet, a sophomore safety. “Kent State has been a well-known losing team in college and the guys here are ready to change that. We have a lot of guys that have come from successful high school programs and you’ve got to change the day-by-day culture.
“I hate losing. Every competitor hates losing. It’s definitely something you don’t ever want to get used to and it humbles you. You learn that every win is hard to get in college football, every game you have to grind.”
After losing his first three games this fall, new Golden Flashes coach Darrell Hazell got his first win on Saturday, a 33-25 victory over South Alabama. Wollet played a big role in the win, intercepting two passes and matching his season-high with eight tackles.
On Monday, Wollet was named Mid-American Conference East Division defensive player of the week. Coincidentally, Canfield High graduate Sean Baker was named the West Division defensive player of the week.
“I was kind of shocked,” Wollet said. “I wasn’t really expecting it but I was glad to get it.
“It was really cool to see Sean’s name because he was a guy I looked up to a little bit when he was a senior.”
Are Poland graduates allowed to admit that?
“I guess,” he said, laughing. “After you graduate.”
As a true freshman last fall, Wollet played in 10 of the team’s 12 games, starting one. He had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown in Kent’s win over Akron. But Kent finished 5-7, prompting Doug Martin to resign after seven seasons.
“It was tough just because it took me the whole year to learn the system,” said Wollet. “The new staff had new ideas but you just have to adjust.
“It was tough but everything works out.”
Hazell, a former assistant at Ohio State, hired former YSU coach Jon Heacock as the team’s defensive coordinator. The two were familiar — Heacock offered Wollet a scholarship in high school — which made the transition easier.
“It’s nice to know someone and have a relationship with one of the coaches,” Wollet said.
A three-sport standout at Poland, Wollet went to the playoffs all three years in football and won a district basketball title and a state track title as a senior.
“I miss the high school days when you could control the game more on both sides of the ball,” he said, laughing. “But I enjoy playing safety. It’s my favorite position and it’s nice to focus on one position.
“I’m just trying to master it and keep getting better every day.”