August 9, 2009

Jarvis draws on 2008 for inspiration

Eugene Jarvis is a winner, and that's just how he expects to end his five-year career at Kent State.

As a senior at Pittsburgh's Central Catholic High School, Jarvis rushed for 2,196 yards and 38 touchdowns to lead the Vikings to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAAA state championship.

Despite his high school accolades, which included being a two-time Pittsburgh Post Gazette Player of the Year and two-time first team all-state selection, Jarvis had limited opportunities to continue his career in college. The 5-foot-5, 170-pounder signed with Kent State, where he is set to become a four-year starter at running back.

The filth-year senior enters the 2009 campaign as one of 45 candidates for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's top college running back.

"It's great. Nobody has earned it more than that guy right there because he has been a self-made player," said Kent State head coach Doug Martin. "He has overcome every odd anybody could put in front of him. He's a great student; academically he's above a 3.0 (grade point average). The guy is just so dedicated, he is good at everything he does."

Jarvis said he's honored by his inclusion on the pre-season watch list, but he garners more motivation from the way the 2008 season ended. The Golden Flashes finished 4-8, their seventh non-winning season in a row.

"I have enough motivation as it is to start out with, being how the season ended last year," Jarvis said. "I didn't like it. It feels good because my recognition on the field is paying dividends and people out there are seeing what I'm doing. It's good in that aspect, but at the same time you still gotta' win. I want to go out on top with a winning season."

The last time Kent State ended the year without a losing record was Jarvis's sophomore year in 2006, when the Golden Flashes finished 6-6. That's when Jarvis introduced himself to the nation with a school-record 1,669 rushing yards on 279 attempts (6.0 yards per carry). For his efforts, he was named first team All-Mid-American Conference and was a honorable mention selection. He also was a first team Sophomore All-American.

Jarvis entered the 2008 season as the nation's leading returning rusher, but injuries limited his action and production. He rushed for just 801 yards as a junior.

Kent State opened fall camp on Friday and Jarvis said he's ready to put last season behind him, and he hopes to end his career by snapping the Golden Flashes' string of non-winning seasons.

"I'm stronger, feel healthier and I'm just ready to kick things off," he said. "I didn't like how last year ended, with me being hurt. It's adversity; it's behind me and I'm moving forward. It's my last year; I've got to go out on top."

According to the MAC News Media Association, Jarvis and the Flashes aren't expected to compete for the conference title, let alone win it. At last month's Media Day event, it was revealed that the Golden Flashes are predicted to finish sixth in the East Division.

And that's just fine by Jarvis.

"It feels good because we're under the radar," he said. "The good thing about it, teams and coaches know what type of team we have. It's just a matter of time when we'll explode. Let everybody write us off and not worry about us and when we see them on Saturday we'll take it (from) there."

Kent State opens the 2009 season on Sept. 3 when Coastal Carolina visits Dix Stadium.

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