New Castle High School’s Geno Stone is a player that Pittsburgh Sports Now has covered throughout the past year. Last night, the Class-of-2017 recruit announced where he will play college football.
Shortly after his announcement, Pittsburgh Sports Now contacted the 5’11” 190-pound safety to learn why he decided upon the Kent State Golden Flashes.
“When they first offered me, they first came to school and told me they want me on campus, and I went up there and I went through the whole campus,” Stone said. “And everything I saw I just loved when I first saw it, and the coaching staff was just all great to me; every coach came up to me, talked to me, said how much they love my film, and how I’ll be a great fit there. And my position coach, Coach [Jeff] Burrow, came up to me at the end and told me they offered me a scholarship. From there, that’s when they started recruiting me real heavy. It’s probably the only school that recruited me that hard since probably this spring…Then, whenever I went up there for my official visit a couple weekends ago, I just had a great time with all the players up there. I had a bond with them already, and all the commits there, so I just felt like it was home.”
Stone, who will play safety in college, values the relationships he built with Kent State’s staff and players in previous months. Among the individuals with whom Stone has bonded is fourth year head coach, Paul Haynes.
“I have a good relationship with him. He’s a great guy. He’s a [defensive back] guy, so that’s why it was a big factor, too. He played safety there. He told me he was going to be with me probably throughout the whole practices, and he’ll be looking around—looking around me—and helping me with stuff.”
In addition to the relationships he has developed, Stone also loved the campus located just over an hour from New Castle.
“It’s a great campus,” said Geno. “I mean, it’s not a campus that’s too big, but it’s not a campus that’s too small. It’s just a perfect size. You can get around everywhere you need to go in a short amount of time. The classrooms I liked a lot. The facilities all there were great. I loved everything about them.”
Pledging his collegiate career to the Golden Flashes brings much relief to a player that has endured a stressful recruiting process. While he experienced some disappointment along the way, Stone believes he found the perfect university for him in the end.
“It was a long process. I stressed a lot through it, just because I had big FBS schools, Power Five schools talking to me. Then, a couple of them backed out because I didn’t meet the type of speed they wanted. So it discouraged me a lot, but I just used that as confidence, and just everything through the season and played my best…and I feel like I got the best fit for me now.”
Although the FBS Power Five schools refrained from offering Stone, over twenty other universities sought the services of the 3-star recruit, as rated by 247Sports. Schools like Ball State, Buffalo, and Robert Morris received Geno’s attention in recent weeks, but none could come close to surpassing Kent State as his favorite.
“My past couple offers were MAC schools, and I thought about them, but I didn’t feel it was right for me to go out there. It just didn’t feel right to go look at schools that just came in, just because I already had a great relationship with Kent State so long.”
New Castle reached the WPIAL 4A Championship game this season, losing to Thomas Jefferson at Heinz Field. Stone played an integral role on both sides of the ball, starting at both quarterback and safety. According to Geno, he will draw upon the experience he has on offense to develop as a safety for the Golden Flashes.
“I’m gonna cause havoc, but I’m also going to be a smart player,” the safety asserted. “I can study plays real well. Being a quarterback, I know what quarterbacks are thinking. So being a safety, it’s going to be a big factor just because I’m going to know where quarterbacks are thinking to go in a 3-deep defense or anything like that. I mean, I‘m going to be a great player for them—I hope to be.”
Our conversation ended by briefly discussing the numerous Kent State alumni who have achieved success in the NFL over the years. Geno specifically mentioned James Harrison and Julian Edelman as former Golden Flashes currently performing at a high level. While Kent State may not produce NFL-caliber players at the rate of a Power Five program, when they do, their players tend to produce.
Pittsburgh Sports Now and WPIAL football fans everywhere will follow Geno Stone in the upcoming years to see if he can become the new Kent State Golden Flash to achieve great success.