New head coach Darrell Hazell had just over six weeks to get his first recruiting class in place for Kent State. A former assistant head coach and wide receivers coach at Ohio State, Hazell was hired on Dec. 20, but he has only been on the job at Kent State since Jan. 5, the day after the Buckeyes' Sugar Bowl victory.
"We didn't have a lot of time, but we weren't going to rush," said Hazell. "We were still going to do this the right way."
And if the 2011 class is any indication, Hazell is going to hit the state of Ohio hard. Of the 18 players to sign a national letter of intent with the Golden Flashes on Feb. 2, 13 will stay in-state to play their college football.
It's not just a one-year deal.
Hazell intends to make Ohio the primary pipeline for talent as long as he is head coach at Kent State.
"Having 13 of 18 recruits from Ohio was a conscious decision we made as a staff," said Hazell. "Ohio has great high-school football. In the NFL, there aren't many states that produce as many players as Ohio. With all the great football all in this state, I know there is enough talent to go around, for a school like Ohio State to get its players and a school like Kent State to get its players."
Hazell was on the road himself as he has only hired six assistant coaches so far.
Kent State's class was ranked third in the Mid-American Conference by rivals.com.
Hazell is working on filling out his staff as well as following winter conditioning and planning for spring practice. Kent State was 5-7 a year ago.
TOP OF THE CLASS
TB Trayion Durham (Colerain High School, Cincinnati) -- Durham has been picked to play in the Big 33 Classic after he rushed for 3,503 yards and accumulated 38 touchdowns in his high school career.
"Trayion Durham is a phenomenal player, who has great size and is still quick and can see the field," said Hazell. "It was a battle last week trying to keep teams off of him. In the end, I think it came down to the trust our staff was able to build with Trayion and his family, and he knew he had an opportunity to come in here and play early."
DE Nate Terhune (Orange High School, Moreland Hills, Ohio) -- As a senior, Terhune had 118 total tackles, including 16 sacks and 31 tackles for loss. He was a first-team All-Ohio selection. Terhune is being counted on to the heir apparent to Monte Simmons as an edge rusher.
SS Devante' Strickland (Marion-Franklin High School, Columbus) -- Strickland was the district player of the year as he made 80 tackles and had six interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles as a senior.
"(He) is probably the most physical guy I've seen in a long time coming out of high school," Hazell said.
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