August 13, 2009
Friendly competition between teammates
Moment's after Kent State's spring game in April, defensive ends Kevin Hogan and Monte Simmons stood toe-to-toe on the Dix Stadium turf discussing the 2008 season.
Hogan, a 6-foot-3, 228-pound senior from Chardon, Ohio, led the team with five quarterback sacks. Simmons, a 6-foot-3, 223-pound junior from Pittsburgh, Pa., finished second with 4 ½ sacks.
"It was like a competition," said Simmons, who wears jersey No. 49 while Hogan dons 94. "No. 49 or No. 94, who got there first? It's a good competition. He's like my brother-49-94."
That brotherly relationship started early in Simmons' career, Hogan's second year with the program.
"I remember when I first got here, it was asked who you would pick for towel wrestling (two players grip a towel, trying to rip it away from the other) and everyone raised their hand and said Kevin Hogan," Simmons said. "He put me under his wings; he just showed me the ropes. Basically I'm becoming the next Kevin Hogan. He's a good man to become."
Simmons couldn't have picked a better role model.
Hogan started his career at Kent State in 2006 as a wide-eyed freshman expecting to redshirt that season. Instead, he played in 10 of the Golden Flashes 12 games, starting the last six, and was named the team's Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Since then, Hogan has gone on to start 21 of KSU's last 24 games. He has led-or has been tied for the team lead-in sacks in each of the past three seasons and he needs just one more to move into second place all-time at the school. With 17 1/2 sacks, Hogan is just 7 1/2 sacks away from tying Justin Parrish as Kent State's all-time sack leader. Andy Harmon is second with 18 sacks.
Hogan enters the 2009 season, his senior year, as one of the veterans of a defense that returns seven starters and 26 lettermen.
"I like it," said Hogan about being one of the defense's leaders. "I've been through the ropes, been through the program. I'm glad I'm finally here as a senior. Hopefully we can make a big difference."
In 2008, when Hogan and Simmons split time at Buck End, Hogan racked up 43 tackles, while Simmons posted 34 stops. Both players entered the spring hoping to earn the starting job. Despite Hogan's experience, it was Simmons that started the spring atop the depth chart at the position.
But, during the spring, head coach Doug Martin experimented with lining up both players on opposite ends of the defensive line.
"I like playing with Monte; it's always fun knowing that he's on the other side of the field," Hogan said. "Hopefully we can do that more this year."
And you can bet if that happens both players will keep track of who gets to the quarterback first.
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