The top 10 Kent State football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
1. S Nate Holley, Sr.
Holley came up with a great freshman season making 37 tackles showing his potential as a possible future star. Over the last two years he’s been one of the MAC’s best defensive backs earning all-star honors two years in a row, making 137 tackles two seasons ago, and rocking again last year making a team-high 139 stops with a pick and two sacks. At 5-11 and 208 pounds he has good size and great all-around hitting ability, making double-digit stops in every game but three, cranking up 15 or more in five games playing as much like another linebacker. A guided missile, he doesn’t do too much with the ball in the air, but that’s nothing compared to the value he brings against the run.
2. DE Terence Waugh, Sr.
The team’s best pass rusher, Waugh came up with 8.5 sacks with 12 tackles for loss to go along with his 57 tackles despite missing the final two games. At 6-1 and 262 pounds he doesn’t look quite right and doesn’t have the body, but he can make plenty of plays coming up with 11 tackles against Marshall and with ten stops against both Bowling Green and Ohio. Extremely quick, he’s a force into the backfield and should be an All-MAC star once again.
3. CB Demetrius Monday, Jr.
The 5-10, 197-pound junior turned in a First Team All-MAC season coming off a sensational first season. He’s the team’s top cover-corner coming up with 35 tackles and six interceptions, making two picks against Miami University while also serving as a steady hitter in the open field. With his size, speed, and two years of very, very productive experience, he might be the MAC’s best corner
4. LB Elcee Refuge, Sr.
A unique hybrid, he’s a 5-9, 230-pound safety/linebacker who can rush the passer. The New Orleans native is very quick, very athletic, and very sure when he gets to the ball finishing third on the team with 70 tackles with 2.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss and a pick making ten tackles in back-to-back weeks against Minnesota and Marshall as a key part of the great run D. He should be even more of a statistical leader in his final year.
5. QB George Bollas, Soph.
The offense was ineffective with Colin Reardon under center, and it wasn’t any better when Bollas stepped in, but at least he got some time in the system to grow. The 6-3, 208-pound sophomore can run just well enough to not be stuck in the mud, but he only completed 46% of his passes for 901 yards with seven touchdowns and four picks. However, he has the size and the arm and the upside to become the main man for the attack over the next three years. At least that’s the program’s hope.
6. RB Raekwon James, Soph.
Can he become the dynamic playmaker and flash the offense needs? At 5-9 and 187 pounds, he’s not all that big, but the New Orleans native can really, really move. He’s a good kickoff returner averaging 20.4 yards per pop while leading the team with 261 rushing yards and catching 28 passes for 287 yards. He wasn’t able to break free for much, but the talent and potential are there to be terrific.
7. NT Jon Cunningham, Jr.
While he might not be flashy, he’s the main man on the nose anchoring the veteran defense that’s so strong and so tough against the run. The 6-0, 295-pounder is built to sit in the middle of a line and not move – he’s one of the stronger linemen in the MAC against the run. While he made 28 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss thanks to a motor that doesn’t quit, it’s his job to gum things up.
8. WR Antwan Dixon, Soph.
One of the team’s most dynamic players when healthy, the 5-8, 173-pound sophomore is a good leader and one of the few sparks coming up with a team-high 26 catches for 355 yards and a score, and running for 162 yards and two touchdowns – averaging close to 15 yards per try – but he couldn’t stay healthy. The Florida native can move, but he needs the ball in his hands more.
9. CB Najee Murray, Sr.
Part of the great defense and the excellent secondary as the key corner on the outside, the 5-9, 180-pound playmaker started out his career at Ohio State and started to come into his own last year. While he didn’t pick off a pass, he made 31 tackles and broke up nine passes. Teams are going to start going at him more and will stay away from Demetrius Monday, but he’ll get around the ball.
10. OT Reno Reda, Sr.
The offensive line couldn’t provide any sort of a push for the running game, but it was great in pass protection. Reda is the best of the offensive front starting out his career at guard before working on the outside starting at left tackle and keeping the job for the last two seasons. The 6-6, 294-pounder isn’t an anchor, but he’s a fringe all-conference performer who’ll get the recognition if the offense can start to produce more.