New head coach Kenni Burns has compiled a Kent State Golden Flashes coaching staff that features several fresh faces ahead of the 2023 college football campaign. Can the new Kent State coaching staff help return the program to winning ways after a difficult 2022?
Kent State Golden Flashes Coaching Staff
Head Coach, Kenni Burns
Following Sean Lewis’ departure to Colorado, Kent State announced Kenni Burns as his replacement in December 2022. The much-heralded assistant coach — a former running back at Indiana — becomes the 23rd head coach of the Golden Flashes football program. It is Burns’ first year as a college head coach.
Burns arrives in Ohio after spending six years in various roles at the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He’s worked with some of the most productive running backs in Minnesota football history, including program record-setters Mohamed Ibrahim and Rodney Smith. In addition to his role as RBs coach, Burns had served as the assistant head coach to P.J. Fleck since 2019.
Burns’ college football coaching résumé is synonymous with success. Following his playing career at Indiana, he spent time with DII Millersville before helping Southern Illinois to an FCS title during his two seasons as TEs and FBs coach for the Salukis.
Departing for FCS powerhouse North Dakota State in 2010, Burns coached the Bisons’ wide receiver group during a stretch that included three FCS titles. He followed then-NDSU head coach Craig Bohl to Wyoming in 2014 before landing at Western Michigan in 2016 as the running backs coach.
Offensive Coordinator, Matt Johnson
One of the initial impacts that Burns had on the Kent State coaching staff was to promote Matt Johnson to the role of offensive coordinator. Additionally, Johnson will serve as the team’s quarterbacks coach for the 2023 season, utilizing his expertise as a former standout college QB in the Mid-American Conference. During his playing career, Johnson was a star quarterback for the Bowling Green Falcons.
In 2015, Johnson was named the MAC Player of the Year and earned All-American accolades. After setting the Bowling Green record for career passing touchdowns, the new Golden Flashes offensive coordinator spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL.
His coaching career began as an assistant at McDevitt High School before a brief spell at Syracuse led him to Kent State in 2018. Originally a quality control coach, Johnson earned a promotion to RBs coach in 2020 and oversaw consecutive standout seasons for Marquez Cooper.
Defensive Coordinator, Dave Duggan
A new addition to Kent State’s coaching staff for the 2023 season, Dave Duggan will serve as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Duggan arrives in Ohio after a long and varied coaching career. Although he joins Kent State’s staff from a director of recruiting role at Troy, the majority of that career has been spent working with the defensive side of the ball. A linebacker for New Hampshire from 1982-1986, Duggan’s first coaching role saw him working with that position group at Allegheny College.
After several college stops, he crossed the pond as a defensive coordinator for the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe in 2001 and held the same role with the Cologne Centurions before becoming their head coach in 2006. Duggan returned to America to continue his college coaching career, of which his résumé is detailed below.
- Allegheny College (LBs coach, 1987)
- New Hampshire (LBs coach, 1988-1991)
- Holy Cross (LBs coach, 1992-1994)
- Colgate (LBs coach, 1995-1997)
- Brown (DC, LBs coach, 1998-2000)
- Southern Miss (LBs coach 2008-2010; co-DC, LBs coach, 2011)
- North Carolina (OLBs, ST coach, 2012)
- Southern Miss (DC, LBs coach 2013-2015)
- Western Michigan (LBs coach, 2016-2018)
- Arkansas State (DC, 2019-2020)
- Troy (director of recruiting, 2021-2022)
Special Teams Coordinator, Kody Morgan
Another new addition for the 2023 college football season, Kody Morgan joins Kent State as the safeties coach and co-special teams coordinator.
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A former cornerback, Morgan has coached the position at Wisconsin-Stout and North Dakota State. He arrives in Ohio having served as the safeties coach and special teams coordinator for the Bison during the 2022 college campaign.
Defensive Line Coach, Colin Ferrell
Colin Ferrell joined the Kent State coaching staff in 2012, originally serving as a graduate assistant before working his way up to the role as defensive line coach. He also serves as the assistant head coach for the Golden Flashes and had a brief stint as the interim head coach in 2017. Ferrell is also a renowned recruiter, responsible for several impressive classes.
Offensive Line Coach, Matt Limegrover
After spending two seasons in multiple roles at Arkansas State, Matt Limegrover joins the Kent State staff for 2023 as the offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator. A former offensive lineman at the University of Chicago, Limegrover got his coaching break with his alma mater but is best known for successful stints at Minnesota, Northwestern, and Penn State.
Tight Ends Coach, Mark Carney
The Kent State coaching staff was bolstered in 2023 by the addition of former Fordham passer, Mark Carney. A standout QB during his playing career, Carney coached quarterbacks at Richmond from 2004-2008 while coaching WRs at Bowling Green for five years. He arrives in Ohio having spent the last three seasons as the Charlotte 49ers’ OC.
Running Backs Coach, Mark Watson
A former team captain at McPherson College, Mark Watson has had a varied coaching career that has seen him gain experience on both sides of the ball. Notably, Watson was a graduate assistant at USC in 2012 and saw success coaching wide receivers at both Southern and Western Illinois. In addition to his role as running backs coach, Watson will also serve as the offensive recruiting coordinator for Kent State.
Wide Receivers Coach, Nick Faus
Another newcomer to the Kent State staff, Nick Faus will work with the Golden Flashes wide receivers in his first full-time coaching role. Prior to his arrival in Ohio, Faus worked alongside Burns at Minnesota as an offensive graduate assistant. He also spent time at West Virginia and Western Michigan.
Cornerbacks Coach, CJ Cox
In addition to his role as cornerbacks coach on the Kent State coaching staff, CJ Cox also acts as the defensive passing game coordinator. Cox joined the Golden Flashes in 2021 after spending three years working with cornerbacks at Montana. A former running back and linebacker for UNLV, he got his coaching break with the Rebels after injury forced his retirement from playing the game.
Rush Ends Coach, CJ Robbins
Another new addition for the 2023 college football season, CJ Robbins joins the Kent State coaching staff as the rush ends coach and defensive recruiting coordinator. Formerly the OLBs coach at South Dakota, Robbins worked with Boye Mafe in Minnesota prior to his NFL Draft selection and has MAC experience from a stint as a grad assistant with the Miami Redhawks.