Kent State announced changes to its football coaching staff Monday for the upcoming 2016 season. Head Coach Paul Haynes moved three current coaches into new positions and hired one new coach.
Ben Needham was elevated to defensive coordinator and will continue to coach the linebackers. After Wednesday’s National Signing Day, Mark Spencer will take over Needham’s duties as recruiting coordinator. Spencer will also continue to serve as running backs coach. After three seasons as a defensive graduate assistant, Colin Ferrell will take over as defensive line coach. Rob Zeitman was named offensive line coach.
Needham enters his fourth season at Kent State, which has seen a rise in the performance of its linebackers. In 2015, senior Matt Dellinger was named to the All-Mid-American Conference Team after a career-best season. The Golden Flashes saw key contributions from a number of different linebackers.
“Any time you can make changes within your staff, I think it’s healthy for your program and your student-athletes.” Haynes said. “I’ve worked with Coach Needham since 2006 from Ohio State to Arkansas to here. I have a lot of trust in him. When we announced it to the team last night, there was a loud cheer, because they all have a lot of respect for him.”
Spencer enters his second season on Kent State’s staff. In 2015, the Flashes’ rushing attack improved by 50 yards per game.
“Coach Spencer’s been a recruiting coordinator in this conference,” Haynes said. “He’s very detailed and organized. That transition will be an easy one for us as a staff.”
Ferrell enters his fourth season on the coaching staff and ninth season with the program. As a graduate assistant, Ferrell worked with the entire defense, with an emphasis on the line. He was an All-MAC First Team selection as a player for the Flashes and spent the entire 2008 preseason with the Indianapolis Colts. Ferrell also spent four seasons coaching at the high school level in his home state of New Jersey.
“Colin’s a former captain here that has a lot of pride in Kent State football,” Haynes said. “Before we made the announcement, I got calls from three or four of our defensive linemen, wanting Colin to be their coach.”
Zeitman has spent the previous four seasons as assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Ferris State. In each of the last two years, he helped the Bulldogs to undefeated regular seasons and GLIAC titles. Prior to Ferris State, Zeitman served as head coach at Grand Rapids Northview High School.
“I’ve known Rob since he was a high school coach, while I was recruiting Michigan” Haynes said. “If you look at what Ferris State has done offensively in the last two years, while competing in a great conference, his work speaks for itself.”
Kent State’s first spring semester practice will take place Tuesday, Feb. 16.