March 28, 2007

Spring Preview: Running ahead of the pack

Entering spring drills, it's clear that Eugene Jarvis sits
atop the Kent State running back depth chart. What isn't so clear is who will
step up and claim the No. 2 spot.

Last season Jarvis carried 185 times for 798 yards and scored three times. Three times he eclipsed the 100-yard mark, including a season and career-high of 179 yards on 31 carries against Toledo. Ironically, that was also his best game in terms of scoring as he scored all three of his rushing touchdowns in the game.

Listed at just 5-foot-5, 158-pounds, Jarvis hasn't struggled to produce.

"One thing that impacted us, Eugene Jarvis, as far as his average per carry
is pretty remarkable," said Kent State head coach Doug Martin
after the 2006 season. "He's over four yards per carry every time he has the
ball. He makes some good things happen. He makes us look a lot better than
we are
at times."

In his career at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Jarvis rushed for 4,300 yards and twice was named WPIAL Player of the Year. He was also a two-time Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Player of the Year and rushed for 2,196 yards and 38 touchdowns as a senior to lead the Vikings to their second consecutive PIAA AAAA state championship.

He chose Kent State over offers from Akron, Bowling Green and Temple. Several BCS conference schools showed interest but took a pass.

After redshirting in 2005, Jarvis split carries with the now departed Tony Howard and even quarterback Julian Edelman, who rushed 169 times.

Heading into spring drills next week, the Golden Flashes will try to establish a backup for Jarvis.

Here's a look at the top candidates:

Kent Sports Report Roster Breakdown-Running Backs

Jon Drager: The 6-foot, 196-pounder began his career at
Kent State in 2003, where he played in all 12 games as a backup
and safety and he played extensively on special teams.

He suffered a knee injury prior to the start of the 2004 season and redshirted. Last season he rushed 25 times for 115 yards and scored three times. He also returned 12 punts for 100 yards.

With Drager's size, he's a perfect complement to Jarvis, especially in short yardage situations. Drager also has plenty of experience, this being his fourth spring session.

Greg Keys: During his freshman season in
2005, Keys played on the offensive side of the ball where
he made
two starts and finished fourth on the team in rushing with
just 63 yards.

He moved to defensive back last season but did not play.

This spring, he's back at running back where the Golden Flashes hope he can compete for extended playing time. Like Drager, Keys possesses good size (6-foot-1, 215) and plenty of quickness.

Stay tuned to Kent Sports Report for more on the position battles that will occur during spring practice.

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