KENT, Ohio — Kent State came out of nowhere last season. From 3-6 in November to 7-6 -- and Frisco Bowl champs -- in December.
So it's fitting that the face of the team, senior quarterback Dustin Crum, has taken a similar route.
"He's changed the way that I look at the (player) evaluation process," Kent State Head Coach Sean Lewis said.
Back in 2016, Dustin Crum was a star quarterback for Midview High School, setting Lorain County records with 103 career touchdown passes and 8,585 career passing yards. But big-name colleges never came calling. Crum was only a two-star recruit according to scouting services 247Sports and Rivals.
"I always kind of felt like I had enough success to be more highly recruited," Crum said. "I always kind of felt like the underdog a little bit in the way I was disrespected."
Crum took that chip on his shoulder with him to Kent State, where a year later he would find himself playing for new head coach Sean Lewis -- one of the same coaches who didn't recruit Crum out of high school.
"When I showed up here, everyone else was probably really, really happy to see me but Dustin was probably pretty pissed off because I had told him that I wasn't going to recruit him when I was at Bowling Green," the former co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Falcons said with a smile.
It didn't get any easier for Crum when he lost the battle for the starting quarterback job to Auburn transfer Woody Barrett in 2018. But instead of transferring, Crum returned to Kent State for his junior season on a mission.
"I think a lot of guys like to put blame on other people instead of taking self-accountability," Crum said. "My mindset was that I left (the quarterback decision) too close and that the best way to do it (in 2019) was to give them no choice but to play me."
Crum won the job and never looked back, throwing for 2,652 yards and 20 touchdowns against only 2 interceptions while running for 707 yards 6 more scores.
In the span of a year, the former Middie has gone from backup to NFL prospect.
"I was actually talking to an NFL personnel member (last week) and I said, 'you need to come out here because I think I got the next (Miami Dolphins QB) Ryan Fitzpatrick.'" Lewis said. "A guy who's got just tremendous grit and tremendous resolve that his teammates absolutely love. That's kind of what I see."
Crum used to be overlooked. But if he can pick up where he left off this season, Flashes fans won't be able to look away.