By Nick Shook
Paul Haynes sat at the head of his conference table inside his office Wednesday morning, awaiting the start of another historic day in his head coaching career at Kent State.
ESPNU’s coverage of National Signing Day played on the television mounted on his office wall while less than two months of relentless recruiting efforts became tangible results in the form of faxed documents.
The first national letter of intent, signed by Toledo Whitmer recruit Nick Holley, arrived at 7:35 a.m.
Recruiting coordinator Ben Needham dialed the first official signee of the 2013 Kent State football recruiting class.
“You were right, you are faster than Nate,” Needham told Holley before handing the phone off to Haynes.
Holley’s twin brother, Nate, was the second to fax his letter about five minutes later, and National Signing Day was officially in full swing.
Kent State’s coaches repeatedly uttered phrases like “that’s huge” and “we’re super excited to have you” as each recruit’s official documents arrived. Haynes moved between his conference table and desk within his office, and often exited to meet with other coaches or accept another phone call with his newest player on the other end.
“We said OKGs, we want our kind of guys, and that’s what we got,” Haynes said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference on the third floor of the M.A.C. Center.
Haynes faced a difficult task being hired as the 21st full-time head coach in the history of Kent State football on Dec. 18, 2012. Before he could even think about recruiting, Haynes had to assemble a coaching staff, and if he wanted to at least reel in a decent group of recruits, he had to act quickly.
The former Flashes standout safety had just a small amount of time to assemble a recruiting class, which would hopefully include players who committed prior to Haynes’ arrival.
“Really, the first day [the coaching staff] got together was probably Jan. 11, 12, somewhere in there,” Haynes said. “We kind of just hit it running. They did a great job of really gaining relationships with the guys who were already committed, plus also searching for new guys.”
The result was a success: only one of 11 commits changed his decision, and another 11 were happy to pledge their intention to join the Flashes.
“With my relationship with [former Kent State head] coach [Darrell] Hazell, we leaned a lot on the guys who were already here,” Haynes said. “On our type of guys that we wanted, I knew those guys were going to be those type of guys that we wanted. It was easy in that case.”
“Really, it was all about them wanting to stay with us, and us getting back out, me meeting them, the new position coach meeting them, he said. “I think when that happened, they saw that it was a lot of the same, so it was a good fit.”
Haynes, a former safety for the Flashes from 1987-1991, said his familiarity with the school made it easy for him to talk about the university and surrounding areas with recruits. But it was the returning players who played a big role in helping Haynes and his fellow new arrivals with recruiting.
“To me, in recruiting, the guys who do the best job are our players,” Haynes said. … “It was fun for me to see that these guys weren’t selling me, because they don’t know me. They were selling Kent State. Those kids love it here.”
The 2013 class does not include a particular headline-grabbing star player, but is instead comprised of players with leadership capabilities and good grades. Twenty of the 21 signees were captains of their respective high school teams, and the class average GPA is a modest 3.16.
The program had 21 scholarships available to offer, and finished Wednesday morning with 21 signees. Nine of the 21 hailed from Ohio, and four additional recruits came from Florida.
The class also included a Mr. Football honoree, which Haynes said “is huge.” Lancaster Catholic High School (Pa.) running back Roman Clay earned the award after rushing for 2,497 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior, and finished with 5,940 career rushing yards, the third most in league history. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound standout was also a two-time all-state honoree.
When asked if he could see a few members of the 2013 class making an immediate impact as freshmen, Haynes didn’t name players but instead explained his approach.
“We want guys who want to come in and compete, not guys who want to just come in and sit and wait for two or three years,” Haynes said.
With 21 new additions to the roster, plenty of competition will take place in the coming months as the Flashes prepare for another run at a Mid-American Conference championship in 2013.
Meet the players
Meet the 2013 Kent State recruiting class, according to the Kent State athletics press release:
|Nathan Strock, QBHeight/weight: 6-foot-3, 200 poundsHigh school: Tri Valley (Zanesville, Ohio)
Stats: Threw for more than 7,000 passing yards and rushed for another 1,700 in his career…threw for 34 touchdowns and four interceptions as a junior, then followed with 25 touchdowns and three interceptions as a senior
Fun fact: Also was a two-time all-league selection in baseball; Went 10-0 and posted a 0.43 ERA as a starting pitcher during his freshman year.
|Roman Clay, RBHeight/weight: 5-foot-11, 210 poundsHigh school: Lancaster Catholic (Lancaster, Pa.)
Stats: Rushed for a Lancaster-Lebanon League-record 2,497 yards and scored 31 touchdowns as a senior…rushed for 1,900 yards and 35 touchdowns as a junior…5,940 career rushing yards are third most in league history.
Fun fact: Honored as Mr. Football Pennsylvania… went 36-5 in three varsity seasons…won PIAA state championship (AA) in 2011.
|Nick Holley, WR/DBHeight/weight: 6-foot, 175 poundsHigh school: Toledo Whitmer (Toledo, Ohio)
Stats: Ran for 92 yards and threw for 196 yards in state title game.
Fun fact: Twin brother Nate also signed with Kent State.
|Brock Macaulay, TEHeight/weight: 6-foot-7, 240 poundsHigh school: West Holmes (Big Prairie, Ohio)
Stats/info: First-team All-Ohio Cardinal Conference…helped West Holmes to a regional runner-up finish…four-year letterman and starter on the West Holmes basketball team.
Fun fact: Parents Ted and Wendy Macaulay are both Kent State graduates.
|Ryan Malone, TEHeight/weight: 6-foot-2, 220 poundsHigh school: St. Paul’s (New Orleans, La.)
Stats: Made 30 catches for 300 yards and seven receiving touchdowns…rushed for 350 yards and seven touchdowns on 50 carries.
Fun fact: Father, Terry, played football at Holy Cross and currently serves as tight ends coach for the New Orleans Saints.
|Wayne Scott, OLHeight/weight: 6-foot-3, 320 poundsHigh school: Mainland (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
Fun fact: High school teammates with fellow signee Jontey “Juice” Byrd.
|Kris White, WRHeight/weight: 6-foot-2, 210 poundsHigh school: South Lake (Clermont, Fla.)
Stats: Threw for 1,334 yards, 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions as a sophomore.
Fun fact: Played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and linebacker. Began classes at Kent State in January and will be only signee to participate in spring practice. His father, George, is from Ohio. White said in Wednesday’s press conference that he actually enjoys the cold winter weather.
|Chris Overton, WRHeight/weight: 5-foot-10, 160 poundsHigh school: Glenville (Richmond Heights, Ohio)
Stats: Made 40 receptions as a senior, with six touchdowns and 501 receiving yards. Ran for 257 yards and four touchdowns on 31 carries and passed for two touchdowns. Returned a kickoff and punt for touchdowns. Finished career with 2,142 all-purpose yards and 22 touchdowns.
Fun fact: Selected to play in Ohio North-South All-Star Game. Was a state meet qualifier in both indoor and outdoor track and field.
|Elcee Refuge, ATHHeight/weight: 5-foot-11, 210 poundsHigh school: Edna Karr (New Orleans, La.)
Stats: Made 270 career tackles and 13 career interceptions.
Fun fact: Helped Edna Karr to three state title game appearances and a state championship in 2012. Three-time member of the all-district team.
|Tyson Reinke, DTHeight/weight: 6-foot-3, 260 poundsHigh school: Eden Prairie (Eden Prairie, Minn.)
Stats: Two-time all-state selection in Minnesota. Also a two-time all-conference and all-metro selection. Helped Eden Prairie to state championships in his junior and senior seasons and a runner-up finish as a freshman.
Fun fact: Also participated in track and field in the shot put and discus.
|Jontey “Juice” Byrd, DTHeight/weight: 5-foot-11, 280 poundsHigh school: Mainland (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
Stats: Recorded 95 tackles and 13 sacks as a senior. Totaled 27 tackles for a loss as a nose tackle. Also rushed for 100 yards and six touchdowns in his senior year. Finished with seven sacks and 105 tackles as a junior.
Fun fact: Named to Sentinel’s 2013 Central Florida Super 60.
|Terence Waugh, DEHeight/weight: 6-foot-3, 225 poundsHigh school: Henry County(Atlanta, Ga.)
Stats: Made 77 tackles, including 38 for loss. Force two fumbles and had nine sacks.
Fun fact: Was an all-region first team selection in junior and senior seasons. Father, Karl played football at Albany.
|Darius Redmond, LBHeight/weight: 6-foot-1, 205 poundsHigh school: Northwestern (Miami, Fla.)
Stats: Totaled 130 tackles and six sacks.
Fun fact: Team captain.
|Kentrell Taylor, LB/RB/FBHeight/weight: 6-foot, 230 poundsHigh school: Massillon Washington (Massillon, Ohio)
Stats: Ran for six touchdowns and 220 yards on 38 carries in the first five weeks of the 2012 season…made 97 tackles as a linebacker, played part in causing six turnovers…eight tackles for loss and three sacks in 2012…made 13 tackles in regional final against Toledo Whitmer.
Fun fact: Has already been part of a win at Dix Stadium, when Massillon defeated Canton McKinley in the state playoffs in November 2012.
|Ryan Seibert, LBHeight/weight: 6-foot-4, 200 poundsHigh school: Olentangy Liberty (Columbus, Ohio)
Stats: Recorded 77 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery during junior season.
Fun fact: Was slated to move from safety to linebacker in senior season, but suffered injury before season began.
|Dusty Moore, MLBHeight/weight: 6-foot-1, 220 poundsHigh school: Heritage (Stockbridge, Ga.)
Stats: Recorded 103 tackles, three sacks and 27 tackles for losses as a senior. Finished junior year with 103 tackles, including 10 for losses.
Fun fact: Father Derrick Moore played for the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers from 1992-95 and set the NAIA single-season rushing record in 1991 while playing for Northeastern State University.
|Nate Holley, LB/DBHeight/weight: 6-foot, 180 poundsHigh school: Toledo Whitmer (Toledo, Ohio)
Fun fact: Twin brother Nick also signed with Kent State.
|Demetrius Monday, CBHeight/weight: 5-foot-11, 185 poundsHigh school: Pebblebrook (Douglasville, Ga.)
Stats: Recorded 62 tackles, 12 pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and blocked a field goal. Also returned two punts for scores and rushed for two touchdowns.
Fun fact: First-team all-region. Also competed in baseball and track and field at Pebblebrook.
|Eric Church, CBHeight/weight: 5-foot-9, 170 poundsHigh school: Timber Creek (Pennsauken, N.J.)
Stats: Recorded 106 tackles, four interceptions, 16 pass break-ups, four forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and three rushing touchdowns in his junior and senior years
Fun fact: All-area, all-conference and all-group III selection. Helped Timber Creek to back-to-back state and conference championships in 2011 and 2012. Also an all-conference selection in basketball and an academic all-state selection.
|Kevin Bourne, SHeight/weight: 5-foot-10, 180 poundsHigh school: Newark Catholic (Newark, Ohio)
Stats: Intercepted five passes, returning two for touchdowns. Recovered three fumbles, returning two for touchdowns. Led team in tackles. Scored 26 total touchdowns. Tied Ohio High School Athletic Association record with a 108-yard interception return. Scored a record 11-consecutive touchdowns for Newark Catholic.
Fun fact: Father played football at Baldwin-Wallace. Kevin was also a sprinter on track and field team and member of Newark Catholic’s district champion basketball team.
|Jake McVay, SHeight/weight: 5-foot-11, 180 poundsHigh school: Aurora (Aurora, Ohio)
Stats: Made 75 tackles and four interceptions. Recovered a fumble and scored a defensive touchdown. Ran for 850 yards and 16 touchdowns on 99 carries.
Fun fact: Former high school teammate with Kent State punter Anthony Melchiori. Named to the all-district second team. Father, Jake, played at Mount Union; mother, Shannon, attended Kent State. Was an all-conference shortstop on Aurora’s baseball team.