Kent State football coach Paul Haynes sees team shifting its culture

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By Allen Moff | Staff Writer

Kent State coach Paul Haynes has stressed the importance of commitment, leadership and team chemistry throughout the off-season, and he believes the team has made major strides.

"They are working their tails off during this off-season, and it's really a lot of the stuff that's off the field," he said. "They're always watching film as groups, not just as individuals. The work ethic off the field has been 100 percent better. The leadership is so much better right now. You see guys talking to each other, congratulating each other, getting after each other a little bit more. Those are the things that I look at, the things we've been stressing, the culture change. It's starting to get that way. That was an emphasis coming in, and they're doing it.

"I think we are a better football team today than we were last year at this time by far. I commend our guys right now for the effort they've given. It's been awesome."

STARS OF SPRING

Haynes was asked following Wednesday's practice to name some players that have been especially impressive this spring.

"On the defensive side, (sophomore safety) Nate Holley, Elcee Refuge, (junior linebacker) Matt Dellinger, and (sophomore end) Terrence Waugh have had a good spring. I think our corners (starters are seniors Dylan Farrington and Malcolm Pannell) are getting better, and that was an emphasis. On the offense side, I think our line has gotten a lot better, and (sophomore quarterback Colin Reardon) of course. Moving (sophomore) Nick Holley (from wide receiver) to running back was a big move, and I think he's gonna be a special player for us. (Senior wide receiver Chris) Humphrey of course, (senior tight end) Casey Pierce, the normal guys (returning starters) have all had good springs."

SPRING GAME PLAN

Spring practices will conclude with the annual Spring Game, which is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday at Dix Stadium. Haynes said the scrimmage will feature a more traditional format.

"I'm gonna divide the team up myself," said Haynes. "It should be a more competitive game than last year, when we did the (first-teamers) against everybody else. It'll be fun for the guys, everybody will get reps -- a good, clean, wholesome scrimmage."

The Spring Game is free and open to the public.

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