Confidence, good eyes key for CMU DB Donte Kent

Harrisburg, PA. freshman Donte Kent jumps over his opponent to nearly come away with an interception against FIU, Saturday, Sept. 25.

For Central Michigan freshman cornerback Donte Kent, success starts with confidence and short-term memory. 

The Harrisburg, PA., native knows he'll be targeted by opponents. After all, the Chippewa pass defense currently ranks dead last in the Mid-American Conference in yards allowed. Kent himself struggled early, giving up big plays in a loss to Louisiana State and win over Florida International. 

However, Kent is still just a freshman. As he's growing, he's finding his footing -- and confidence -- in the back half of CMU's defense. In the Chippewas' win over Toledo, he allowed just three catches for 22 yards. Just two of those yards came after the catch total according to Pro Football Focus. 

As he grows, he's finding the confidence to become a big-time corner in the MAC. 

"It comes with experience, for sure," Kent said. "As the season progresses, it's just experience kicking in that comes with confidence. Once you get that confidence, then you out there balling, you having fun. That's all it is." 

Part of that confidence comes with having a short memory, as big plays are bound to happen in today's pass-heavy college football environment. This skill of being able to rebound from allowing big plays is ingrained in all the great corners, the ranks of which Kent intends to join. 

"As a corner, anywhere, you've gotta have a short-term memory," Kent said. "You've gotta think, other schools, they practice too, they're Division I athletes too. So big plays are bound to happen, so you've gotta have that short-term memory."

With Dishon McNary out for the near future after suffering an ankle injury, Kent has had to assume the role of top corner. The group as a whole is a balance between youth and experience, as experienced players Richard Bowens III and Rollian Sturkey pair with freshmen Kent, Daedae Hill and Elijah Rikard to form the unit. 

"With Dison going down, I knew I had to step up and be a bigger leader for the guys in the defensive back room," Kent said. "And I think Bowens, Sturkey and Daedae, they're all doing a good job." 

Kent was one of few true freshmen on campus during the shortened 2020 season, meaning he gained valuable game reps as the season progressed. A highlight from that season was his first career interception, which sealed a Chippewa comeback win over Eastern Michigan. 

As the Chippewas prepare for Rocky Lombardi, Northern Illinois' starting quarterback, Kent and company face another signal caller who is formidable with both his arm and legs. The team is more than prepared for this, having faced similar challenges throughout the year. 

Heading into the game, Kent says deceiving the quarterback with his eyes is a key to being successful. 

"It's all about your eyes as a DB," Kent said. "So great eyes will take you where you've gotta be."