116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Kent State is a rising team in the Mid-American Conference and that might be because of its young head coach, Sean Lewis.
Lewis started with the Golden Flashes in 2018 and is one of the youngest head coach in the FBS \at the age of 35. At Kent State, he installed an up-tempo, no huddle offense with a quarterback that spreads the ball around to a variety of talent, which is why it’s hard to pick the top-five players. Standout statistics this early in the season are hard to find after a 41-10 loss to Texas A&M and a 60-10 win over VMI.
The Golden Flashes led the nation in scoring — 49.8 points per game — last season in an abbreviated four-game season after making their first trip to a bowl game since 2012 in 2019 and taking down Utah State, 51-41, in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl.
It’s an interesting team to keep an eye on, and I just like the name, “Golden Flashes.” It just makes them sound like superheros.
Here are five players to keep an eye on.
QB Dustin Crum
It’s always good to know who the quarterback is and with an offense that targets multiple ball carriers and receivers, he’s the one running the show.
Crum is a graduate student and preseason first-team All-MAC selection by Phil Steele and Athlon Sports and is on preseason watch lists for the Davey O’Brien and Walter Camp awards. Crum received first-team All-MAC honors in 2020, throwing for 1,182 yards with a conference-leading 73.2 percent completion percentage.
Crum completed 12 of 17 passes against VMI for 180 yards passing while also rushing for 70 yards. While his stats against A&M weren’t as impressive, he still put together 60 yards on the ground with a long run of 26 yards.
Crum received the 2019 Frisco Bowl MVP award. He’s led the Golden Flashes to their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1976-77. He also carried an offense that averaged 606.5 yards per game in 2020 — which you can take with a grain of salt through four games but still is a substantial number.
WR Nykeim Johnson
Just to provide a holistic view of the offense, which spreads the ball around, Johnson seems to be a consistent wide receiver for the Golden Flashes. He caught five passes for 55 yards against VMI and two passes for 16 yards against A&M.
The graduate transfer from Syracuse has a lot of playing experience at the ACC level and was second-team All-ACC as a kick returner (23.2 yards per return), leading the league with 14.1 yards per punt return, which ranked sixth in the nation.
During his time at Syracuse, he established himself as a deep threat, catching two 80-plus yard passes. Next to Crum, he’s a top threat of the offense.
RB Marquez Cooper
It seems like Cooper is a versatile back for Kent State. The sophomore started all four games as a freshman in the abbreviated MAC season, and has played at the No. 1 spot in both games in 2021.
Against VMI, Cooper averaged 9.9 yards per carry for 119 yards rushing and added 42 yards on the ground against Texas A&M, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He also tallied a 19-yard reception. He shares reps with teammate Xavier Williams, but Cooper is first on the depth chart.
CB Elvis Hines
Hines, a fifth-year senior for the Golden Flashes, intercepted Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King twice in Kent State’s season-opening loss to the Aggies and tacked on his third against VMI. He’s part of a unit that has amassed eight interceptions through two games.
Hines also has years of experience under his belt, starting since his sophomore season after playing in all 12 games as a true freshman.
CB Montre Miller
You can’t mention Hines and not mention Miller, who became the first Golden Flash since Brian Lainhart in 2008 to have three interceptions in one game.
Miller is a lot less experienced than Hines, but it is shaping up to be a big season for him.
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