No doubt about it, Kent State's safeties are among the best in the Mid-American
Fifth-year seniors Brian Lainhart and Dan Hartman have been
fixtures in the KSU secondary for the past three seasons. And both finished
among the top 35 tacklers in the league. With 7.2 tackles per game, Lainhart
ranked 17th in the MAC and Hartman's 6.0 stops per contest were good
Both also were among the league leaders in interceptions. Lainhart's
seven picks led the league while Hartman checked in with four of his own.
Lainhart and Hartman, who have combined for 54 starts, both were a big reason
why Kent State's defense was second in the MAC in pass efficiency defense.
Kent State's coaching staff wasn't sure what they had when they
signed Brian Lainhart to a letter of intent out of Cincinnati's Colerain
High School. Lainhart was scrawny, but the KSU staff overlooked his measurables
and instead focused on his ability to make plays.
Lainhart needs just five more interceptions to break Kent State's all-time
A two-time all-conference performer at Colerain, Lainhart made 62 tackles
and picked off four passes during his senior season for the Cardinals.
He arrived at Kent State in 2006 and redshirted behind safety Andre
During that time Lainhart spent much of his time working out and watching film
with Kirkland, who went on to play in the NFL. Lainhart put into action what
he learned from Kirkland and the 6-foot-1, 207-pound fifth-year senior has
established himself as a MAC Defensive Player of the Year candidate in 2010.
Already Lainhart ranks third in school history with 15 career interceptions
and enters the 2010 season with the most picks among active BCS players. He
needs just four more interceptions to tie Lou Harris' school record.
Lainhart always seems to be around the football, and that's bad news
for opponents. He's among the best at forcing turnovers as he has forced
16 in his last 19 games (13 interceptions and three fumbles).
A two-time team captain and a member of Phil Steele's fourth-team preseason
All-American squad, Lainhart earned first team All-MAC honors in 2009. He was
the first KSU defensive back selected to the first team since 1988.
In 2009 he led the conference with seven picks and posted 87 tackles, pushing
his career total to 256.
Lainhart, the starting free safety, has started 32 of the 34 games in which
he has appeared.
Lainhart's greatest preseason accolade was recently announced. He was
named to the 2010 Jim Thorpe Award Watch List.
The Thorpe Award is named after Jim Thorpe, arguably the best all-around athlete
in history. He excelled at running back, as a passer and kicker, and was one
of the best defense backs ever to play the game. A member of the Pro Football
Hall of Fame, Thorpe also played professional baseball and won Olympic gold
medals in the decathlon and pentathlon.
While Lainhart has the free safety spot locked up, Dan Hartman is equally
secure at strong safety.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound fifth-year senior from Leavittsburg, Ohio was a four-year
letterwinner at defensive back, linebacker and wide receiver at LaBrae High
School before signing with Kent State in 2006.
Hartman redshirted in 2006 then became a regular in Kent State's defense
for the next three seasons. He has started 22 of the 34 games in which he has
appeared, including all 12 in 2009.
Last fall he recorded a career-high 72 stops and finished fifth in the conference
with 13 passes defended.
In his career Hartman has 149 tackles and four interceptions.
The depth at free safety includes sophomore Zack Gonosz and junior
Gonosz, a 5-foot-10, 203-pounder from East Paulding High School in Dallas,
Ga., played in 10 games during his freshman campaign of 2009. He recorded two
tackles on special teams and was one of nine true freshmen to letter.
As a senior at East Paulding, Gonosz was named Paulding County's Player
of the Year. The two-time all-state honorable mention selection racked up more
than 350 tackles and 13 interceptions in his high school career.
Hummer, a 5-foot-10, 202-pounder, came to Kent State from Napoleon High School
in Ohio where he was a three-time letterwinner and totaled 149 tackles, 10
interceptions and six pass breakups in his career. A first-team All-Ohioan
as a senior, Hummer was nominated for the Wendy's High School Heisman
Hummer redshirted in 2007 and did not see action in 2008. He played in his
first college game on Oct. 24 against Ohio.
Hartman has 22 starts to his credit.
Over at strong safety Hartman's backups are projected as Leon Green and Calvin Taylor.
The 5-foot-11, 204-pound Green redshirted in 2008 after signing with Kent
State out of Gateway High School in Monroesville, Pa.
Last fall Green played in 11 of 12 games and recorded three tackles.
At Gateway, Green was a three-time all-conference selection and played in
the 2008 Big 33 Football Classic. He also was a member of the East Elite, Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette South Fabulous 22 and Daily News Dynamic 33 teams. As a senior
he recorded 58 tackles, three sacks and picked off three passes. He scored
two defensive touchdowns and accumulated 739 yards of total offense and another
Taylor, a 6-foot, 200-pound fifth-year senior from St. Vincent-St. Mary High
School in Akron, has played in 12 games over the past two seasons, all on special
teams. Last fall he made two tackles against Boston College.
At SVSM, Taylor rushed for 800 yards and posted 226 tackles and four interceptions.
Kent State signed a pair of safeties in 2010: Calvin Tiggle[/db] and [db]Luke Wollet.
Tiggle, a 5-foot-11, 190-pounder, came to Kent State from Hargrave Military
Academy. Prior to that he was at Woodland High School in Ellenwood, Ga.
While at Woodland High Tiggle recorded 95 tackles, five interceptions and
forced seven fumbles during his junior and senior seasons. At Hargrave he was
named one of the top 50 prep school players in the country.
Tiggle enrolled at Kent State in January and practiced with the team during
Wollet signed with Kent State out of Poland High School in Northeast Ohio.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder finished his career at Poland with 3,400 all-purpose
yards, 36 touchdowns, 180 tackles, 13 interceptions and six forced fumbles.
He was the Division III Northeast Ohio Inland District Player of the Year,
his conference's offensive player of the year and a member of the North
squad in Ohio's annual North-South All-Star Game. Wollet also was a member
of Poland's state championship 1,600-meter relay team.
At Poland Wollet started 36 consecutive games and helped lead the Bulldogs
to three straight playoff appearances.
With 54 combined starts over the past three seasons Brian Lainhart and Dan
Hartman have been among Kent State's most reliable players. They're
also two of the most consistent, in practice and in games.
Then there's the leadership factor. Lainhart was elected captain for
the second straight season and Hartman is among the most vocal players at practice.
With two fifth-year seniors holding down the back-end of Kent State's
defense the Golden Flashes are in position to improve upon last year's
Kent State's backup safeties haven't seen much game action and
what they have experienced has been mostly on special teams.
Lainhart and Hartman have proven to be very durable, but the Flashes can't
afford a hole in the defense so the backups and newcomers are going to be called
on to be ready when necessary. Tiggle and Wollet aren't in position to
redshirt, so they'll need to get up to speed quickly.
Defensively, the Golden Flashes have experience and talent at every level
and the safeties lead the way.
There are three fifth-year seniors on the Flashes' D, and two of them
are at safety. With 32 and 22 starts, respectively, Lainhart and Hartman lead
the defense. That experience should allow the Golden Flashes to improve upon
their defensive performance in 2009.
Combined, Lainhart and Hartman made 159 tackles, picked off 11 passes and
broke up another 24.
The Flashes are in good shape at safety, but they'll need some help
from their reserves. Green and Gonosz have some experience, although most of
it came on special teams, and Tiggle and Wollet have exceptional skills, but
they'll be learning a new system and adapting to the speed of the college
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