Josh Cribbs arrived for his freshman year at Kent State University with a football scholarship and an assortment of ready-to-eat meals. Slightly unprepared? Perhaps. But the 18-year-old quarterback was ready to play college ball. He had chosen Kent State over more football-rich programs because it presented an opportunity to play right away.
Cribbs was determined to play now, and in an open competition for the starting QB job, the Washington, D.C. native seized the chance and staked his claim. His “welcome to college football” moment occurred during the first team practice, courtesy of a linebacker named James Harrison (yes, the same James Harrison who was 2008 Defensive Player of the Year for the Pittsburgh Steelers). An option play gave Cribbs an opening to do what he does best—make a play with his feet. But a hulking Harrison popped the scrambling Cribbs, who wasn’t expecting to be tackled before he crossed the line of scrimmage.
Lessons learned in moments like this, together with his steadfast approach to practice and game day preparation, made for a seamless transition once Cribbs got his first taste of live action. He says, “I was confident in my ability that, when given a chance and given the opportunity, I could get the job done.”
After coming off the bench in relief during the first two games of the season, Cribbs took over as starting QB in week three against West Virginia University. All he did was run for an 84-yard touchdown, setting a record for longest rushing TD by a visiting opponent.
After winning the starting role, Cribbs literally ran with it, finishing the season as the nation’s fourth-leading rusher among QBs and leading the Golden Flashes to their first over .500 season in 14 years.
With each subsequent season, Cribbs continued to distinguish himself as a premier QB in the MAC. The way he played, and trained, was unusual for a quarterback. He says, “I was lifting like crazy so I can get that 225-[Bench] Test up, running like crazy so my 40 time would be tremendously low—just trying to do everything I could to look good in the scouts’ eyes.”
And the scouts were impressed. But once again, a change was on the horizon.
Be sure to make your return next week for Part 3 of the Cribbs series.
Josh Cribbs: The Return Man, Video Part 1
Photo: Kent State Athletics