After Kent State's plane finally landed in Mobile, about 90 minutes late because of weight issues, the team practiced briefly at the University of South Alabama practice field. Then Hazell and Flashes Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen each spoke briefly at a Team Arrival Press Conference held at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The teams, bowl officials and the media were then invited to a Team Welcome Reception, held under some tents set up outside the stadium, featuring a southern-style shrimp boil. Roosevelt Nix and Freddy Cortez were set to represent Kent State in a Team Play-by-Play Contest, but I wasn't able to attend because of deadline constraints.
• Nielsen and Arkansas State Athletic Director Terry Mohajir each received keys to the city from Mobile Mayor Sam Jones.
n Mohajir noted that Kent State senior quarterback Spencer Keith's parents are both Arkansas State grads. Keith, a native of Little Rock, set state records for passing yards (5,310, tops in country), attempts (625) and completions (396) while leading Pulaski Academy to the Arkansas 5A state title as a senior. He said Arkansas State recruited him lightly, but never offered him a scholarship. Kent State was Keith's only Division I offer.
• Ladd-Peebles Stadium is the home of the University of South Alabama's football team, and also hosts the Senior Bowl each year.
It's located in a residential area in Mobile, and seats a little over 33,000 -- the perfect size for this bowl game. As I walked on the field Wednesday night, I was forced to slap a winter hat on my bald head because of a cool and steady breeze that whipped through the stadium. The temperature wasn't what I was hoping for -- high in the low 50s, more like mid-40s by the evening -- and skies were cloudy throughout the day. Temperatures are typically in the low 60s at this time of year in Mobile, but I'm not complaining -- no threat of white stuff, for sure! Early forecasts for Sunday's game show cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 50s around kickoff, which is set for 9 p.m.
Kent State will practice today from 10:25 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. local time. A visit to the USA's Children's and Women's Hospital is set for this afternoon. In addition, comedian Larry the Cable Guy will address the crowd at Friday's GoDaddy.com Bowl Mayor's Luncheon, and race car driver Danica Patrick will serve as Grand Marshal for the Mardi Gras Parade on Saturday, the first parade of the Mardi Gras season.
Countdown To Kickoff: 3 days.