Kyle Kempt adjusts to change
Watch List QB has had four coordinators in four years, but still succeeds
Transition has defined Kyle Kempt's life for the last four years.
Less than 24 hours after his freshman year ended at a high school in Oregon, Kempt boarded a plane for Ohio. His family was moving to Massillon.
He went from playing quarterback as a freshman for a high school in Oregon that put nearly all of its money into academics to playing his sophomore year at Massillon Washington, where legendary coach Paul Brown's name is on the 16,000-seat stadium and state and national championship banners are proudly displayed from end zone to end zone.
Now with his senior season on the horizon, Kempt will be learning under yet another offensive coordinator, Badre Bardawil, after McDaniels left the program after just one season. It will be his fourth new offense in four years of high school football.
Like any good quarterback, though, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound ESPNU Watch List prospect has taken it in stride, never getting too high and never getting too low. And he feels this offense suits him best.
"This year will be the best of the three years because the system we're in is simple and multiple at the same time," said Kempt, who has offers from Ole Miss, Tennessee, West Virginia and Cincinnnati, among others. "We're perfecting what we do, not running a bunch of different plays. It's more like a Mike Leach system."
Though Kempt won't admit it, Massillon coach Jason Hall knows the constant change of coordinators has to have taken a bit of a toll on his quarterback.
"We've had some transition here. It's been a little frustrating for him," Hall said. "But I think he's excited about some of the new schemes and we are as well. We're getting back to more of a spread mentality."
Bardawil, a high school coach in Northeast Ohio last season, already had a solid background on Kempt and saw him play multiple times in person and on film. Bardawil saw the same thing Kempt did when Kempt was able to take a step back and evaluate himself: He was thinking too much. The new offense will run a lot of high-tempo, no-huddle sets, allowing Kempt to focus on just playing football instead of getting into his own head and outthinking himself.
As Bardawil points out, Kempt's biggest strength -- his mind -- can be his biggest enemy.
"A kid like him, as smart as he is, can over analyze, and that's what got him into trouble," Bardawil said. "I think the no huddle will help him keep his thinking to a limit. He'll use his football instinct and his God given talent."
The best showcase of that might have been in the season finale against Canton McKinley in the state's most heated rivalry. Kempt orchestrated a late drive keyed by a fourth-down conversion to score the go-ahead touchdown. (McKinley would eventually score in the waning seconds to win.)
"My best moments have been no huddle," Kempt said. "When we got into no huddle, that's when I got into a rhythm and was at my best -- when I'm thinking less."
Like any spread offense and no-huddle attack, the focal point of the offense is the quarterback. And in Massillon, football is the focal point of the town.
"He's our Peyton Manning. You saw what happened to the Colts this year, right," Hall said. "Our offense is dictated to Kyle. You can really say how our team goes is how Kyle plays.
"And like always at Massillon we want to a win a championship. That's not too much pressure, right?"