The Pittsburgh Steelers third round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft has been made and it’s Kent state running back Dri Archer.
Report via Dave-Te’ Thomas.
Wide Receiver/Tailback/Return Specialist
Kent State University Golden Flashes
Venice High School
An early 2013 season ankle injury did what no other opponent could do in 2012 – stop Dri Archer. The highly versatile athlete had an outstanding junior campaign, where he rushed for at least 100 yards five times, producing two 200-yard performances, as he twice gained over 100 yards on kickoff returns. In fourteen games, he registered at least 100 all-purpose yards thirteen times, registering seven 200-yard efforts and another that amassed 350 yards.
In contrast, thanks to that nagging ankle sprain, Archer managed just two 100-yard rushing games in 2013. He gained 100 all-purpose yards only four times, two that went over the 200-yard barrier. Still, he would conclude his Golden Flash career second in school history with forty total touchdowns, eighth with twenty-four scoring scampers, tied for sixth with twelve touchdown grabs, ninth with 2,342 yards rushing, seventh with 1,436 kickoff return yards, tenth with 99 receptions and third with 4,980 all-purpose yards, along with 240 points.
Among the NCAA’s active Football Bowl Subdivision performers, Archer’s four kickoff returns for touchdowns rank second, as his rushing average of 7.21 yards placed third. His forty total touchdowns is seventh, as is his kickoff return average of 28.16 yards, which is also a school record and second in Mid-American Conference annals.
Archer concluded his career ranking in the Top Ten on the school’s record charts in sixteen separate categories, along with inking his name into the conference record list five times and the NCAA books three times. He also holds the distinction of being the first player in school history to ever receive Walter Camp Football Foundation All-American honors (2012).
Archer size is not ideal for usage as an every down ball carrier, but the A-Back has the experience and quickness to play a variety of roles for an NFL franchise, much like Darren Sproles and Tavon Austin are doing carving out a “living” in the professional ranks. Even though he is a shade under 175 pounds, he has proven to have the leg drive to break tackles and the cutting ability to turn a short run into a big gain – evident by his yards-per-carry (7.21) and yards-per touch (10.35 all-purpose yards per attempt) averages.
Any teams that might have been concerned about his strength had those thoughts eased when Archer put on an impressive performance in the weight room at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine when he recorded twenty repetitions in the 225-pound bench press test, the eighth-best figure for all running backs in attendance.
Further testing out on the track was truly eye-opening for all that witnessed Archer’s performance in Indianapolis. He not only timed the fastest of the 335-plus players at the Combine, but his 4.26-second 40-yard clocking was the fastest for any player, outside of tailback Chris Johnson (4.24 in 2008) during the last decade of Combine testing. His 20-yard shuttle time of 4.06 seconds was second-best for the running backs in 2014 and his 6.86-second three-cone drill was fourth-best for the ball carriers tested.
Playing in the state of Florida for Venice High School, Archer was lightly recruited, leading to him eventually venturing to Ohio to play major college football. At Venice High, he received just a two-star prospect grade from both Rivals.com and Scout,com. Much like his career at Kent State, Archer relied upon his versatility, as he competed as a running back, slot receiver and return specialist.
Archer was named team MVP, first team all-area and second team all-conference during his senior year. In 2008, he rushed for 1,482 yards and 17 touchdowns on just 145 carries (10.2 ypc), while adding 21 receptions for 402 yards and five scores. He helped lead the team to back-to-back district titles and an undefeated 2008 regular season.
Archer returned kicks for the Indians, averaging 22.3 yards on both kickoffs and punts, including running back one punt for a touchdown. He also lettered in track and baseball, finishing second in the 100-meter final of the state track meet in his first full season of running (ahead of third place Denard Robinson, former Michigan quarterback and present Jacksonville Jaguar) with a time of 10.49 seconds.
Archer enrolled at Kent State in 2009, where the 155-pound freshman served as a reserve tailback. He scored three times on nineteen catches for 231 yards, carrying the pigskin 58 times for 246 yards (4.24 ypc) and a touchdown. He also averaged 24.18 yards on eleven kickoff returns, finishing his first campaign with 743 all-purpose yards.
As a sophomore, Archer remained on the second unit at tailback, but did not get many opportunities to tote the ball on offense. He had 22 kickoff returns for 451 yards (20.5 avg), but was given only forty carries, producing 140 yards (3.5 ypc) while reaching the end zone just once. He snatched sixteen short tosses, good for 75 yards and another touch-down in 2010. He appeared to have secured the A-Back position in KSU’s new offense during 2011 spring camp, but was later ruled academically ineligible and was forced to sit out the entire season.
There were several changes on offense when Archer returned to the varsity in 2012, including several changes by Archer, who shed jersey #28 that he wore during his first two years for jersey #1. He also arrived back for fall camp twenty pounds heavier than the last time he played, checking in at 175 pounds. He also had to adjust to life as an A-Back after being utilized from the tailback slot previously.
The 2012 campaign turned out to be a sensational one for both Archer and the Golden Flashes. The junior would not only lead the team to just their third bowl appearance in school history, and their first since 1972, but he shattered KSU season-record with 23 total touchdowns and 2,577 all-purpose yards. He also set the school and Mid-American Conference records with a 36.94-yard kickoff return average, along with returning three of those kicks for scores.
Archer led the nation with an average of 8.99 yards per carry, toting the pigskin 159 times for 1,429 yards, the third-best yardage output in school history. He also snared 39 passes for 561 yards (14.38 ypc) and four scores. Additionally, he reached the end zone with his arm, throwing a 24-yard option pass for a score vs. Army. He would be named the MAC’s Special Teams Player of the Year and was one of the finalists for the Paul Hornung award (nation’s most versatile player), in addition to being named a consensus All-American.
Archer was primed for yet another banner campaign in 2013, but in the first quarter of the season opener vs. Liberty, he suffered a badly sprained left ankle. It was first feared to be a fracture, which would have cost the senior both the season and end his college career. He fought through the pain most of the schedule, first missing the next week vs. Bowling Green and then the fourth game vs. Penn State after he was re-injured a week prior in the Louisiana State clash.
Archer managed to play in ten games, but was limited to 25 receptions for 327 yards (13.04 ypc) and four scores. He picked up 527 yards on 68 carries (7.75 ypc), reaching the end zone six more times. He was only utilized as a kickoff returner twice, but ran one back a school record 100 yards for a touchdown vs. Northern Illinois.
Archer started 21-of-47 games at Kent State – twenty at the A-Back position and one as a tailback…Caught 99 passes for 1,194 yards (12.06 ypc) and twelve touchdowns…Gained 2,342 yards with 24 scores on 325 carries (7.21 ypc)…Returned 51 kickoffs for 1,436 yards and four touchdowns…Also completed a 24-yard pass for a score, adding eight yards on six punt returns while also recording three solo tackles…Generated 4,980 all-purpose yards, an average of 105.96 yards per game, as he recorded a total of forty touchdowns and scored 240 points…Mid-American Conference Career-Record Results…Archer’s forty total touchdowns tied P.J. Pope of Bowling Green (2002-04) for 16th place on the league record chart…His kickoff return average of 28.16 yards ranks fourth in MAC annals behind Bryan Williams of Akron (20.5 avg, 2007-08), James Williams of Marshall (29.4 avg, 1998-99) and Eric Page of Toledo (28.9 avg, 2009-10)…School Career-Record Results…Archer ranks tenth in school annals with 99 receptions, as his twelve scoring grabs tied Jurron Kelly (1998-01) for sixth on the school all-time list…His forty total touchdowns are one shy of the school record of 41 that is held by Josh Cribbs (2001-04)…Finished ninth on the KSU rushing record list with 2,342 yards and eighth with twety-four touchdowns on the ground…His 1,436 yards gained via kickoff returns rank seventh in school annals, while his average of 28.16 yards per kickoff return topped the previous Golden Flash record of 24.5 yards by Norman Warren (1977-79)…Also set the team record with four kickoff returns for touchdowns…His 240 points scored are third-best at the school behind Josh Cribbs (246; 2001-04) and Freddy Cortez (299; 2009-12).
Archer established school records with thirteen games that he gained at least 100 all-purpose yards in 2012. That figure included seven games with at least 200 yards and one for over 300 yards…Mid-American Conference Season-Record Results…Archer’s 138 points scored in 2012 rank fourth on the league chart behind Bernard Pierce of Temple (162 in 2011), Randy Moss of Marshall (152 in 1997) and Travis Prentice of Miami, Ohio (150 in 1997)…His twenty-three total touchdowns in 2012 tied Chester Taylor of Toledo (2001) for fourth on the MAC chart, surpassed by Bernard Pierce (27 in 2011), Travis Prentice (25 in 1997) and Randy Moss (25 in 1997)…His kickoff return average of 36.94 yards in 2012 topped the previous record of 32.9 yards per return by James Williams of Marshall in 1999…School Season-Record Results…Archer’s 1,423 yards rushing in 2012 rank behind Eugene Jarvis (1,669 in 2007) and Julian Edelman (1,551 in 2008) on the KSU annual record list…His 23 total touchdowns broke the previous mark of eighteen scores by Larry Poole in 1973 and Eugene Baker in 1997…His sixteen touchdown runs as a junior rank third on the Golden Flash list…His 2,577 all-purpose surpassed the old school mark of 2,074 yards by Eric Wilkerson in 1987…His average of 36.94 yards per kickoff return in 2012 broke the old record of 32.6 yards by Orin Richburg in 1967.
Archer’s 241 yards rushing vs. Bowling Green in 2012 is the fifth-highest total in school history…His 222 yards on the ground vs. Army in 2012 rank ninth on that game chart…His 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown vs. Northern Illinois in 2013 tied the school mark that was first set by Norman Warren vs. Eastern Kentucky in 1979.
Archer played in ten games, starting nine contests at A-Back…Recorded 327 yards with four touchdowns on 25 receptions (13.08 ypc)…Carried 68 times for 527 yards (7.75 ypc) and six scores…Returned two kickoffs for 128 yards and one touchdown…Scored 66 points behind a total of eleven touchdowns, as he also recorded a pair of solo tackles and generated 982 all-purpose yards…Archer’s final campaign almost ended before it got a chance to start, as he suffered a badly sprained left ankle in the first quarter of the season opener vs. Liberty…What was first thought to be a fracture was just a sprain and after sitting out the next week vs. Bowling Green, he returned briefly vs. Louisiana State, but the ankle could not handle the work load, missing most of that contest and the next week vs. Penn State…Would not fully recover until late in the season…The team offensive captain was named MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown vs. Northern Illinois…
Named to All-MAC Third Team as both a wide receiver and a kick returner… Averaged 7.8 yards per carry… Led team in scoring with 66 points and 11 total touchdowns. Tied for team lead in rushing touchdowns (6)… Led team with 982 all-purpose yards… Rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns in win at Ohio. Also caught five passes for 53 yards, giving him 191 yards of total offense… Scored on a 20 yard touchdown run in the victory over Miami, this was his eighth rushing touchdown this season… Rushed 10 times for 115 yards, including a 74 yard touchdown run as well as a 73 yard touchdown catch in the loss at South Alabama. Archer accumulated 199 yards of total offense and 227 all-purpose yards… Caught a 14 yard touchdown pass during the loss to Ball State… Caught a 66 yard touchdown pass as well as returning a kick 100 yards for a touchdown (tying Norman Warren in 1979 for longest in school history) during the loss to Northern Illinois… Caught a 31 yard touchdown pass during the win at Western Michigan… In his first full game back from the injury list, he snared four balls for 48 yards and a 31-yard score, adding 73 yards on six carries vs. Western Michigan…In addition to his kickoff return for a score, he caught a swing pass that Archer turned into a 66-yard touchdown vs. Northern Illinois…
He added a 14-yard scoring grab vs. Ball State and picked up 114 yards on ten carries with a 74-yard touchdown run, as he also tallied 85 yards on two catches that included a 75-yard score vs. South Alabama…Generated 83 yards on twelve runs and reached the end zone on a 17-yard carry, knocking down All-American defensive end Khalil Mack to leap over the pylon vs. Buffalo…Closed out his career with fifteen attempts for 138 yards and three touchdowns, as he also made five catches for 53 yards vs. Ohio University.
Archer earned All-American honors from The NFL Draft Report, Associated Press, Walter Camp, ESPN.com, Sporting News and Phil Steele…Named Mid-American Conference Special Teams Player of the Year and All-MAC first-team as both a running back and kick returner…One of four finalists for the Paul Hornung Award, honoring nation’s most versatile player…Finished the year with 1,429 rushing yards (third most in a season at KSU) on just 159 carries with sixteen touchdowns, as his average of 8.99 yards per attempt topped the nation…Named Dapper Dan Club of Akron’s Co-Sports Person of the Year…Led the team with 39 catches for 561 yards (14.38 ypc) and four touchdowns… Returned three kickoffs for touchdowns and averaged 36.9 yards on sixteen kick returns (highest in MAC history), good for 591 yards…Named to Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll three times throughout the season…Earned the Joe Fogg Award, honoring national collegiate player of the year in the Midwest…Named MAC East Player of the Week for his performance vs. Bowling Green, after rushing 17 times for 241 yards and two touchdowns that both went for over 70 yards in the 31-24 victory. His 241 yards broke a Doyt Perry Stadium record…Amassed 217 yards vs. Towson, as he carried eight times for 57 yards with two scores, returned two kickoffs for 155 yards and a 98-yard touchdown, as he also had an 8-yard catch…Raced 47 yards for a touchdown and tallied 205 all-purpose yards vs. Kentucky…Exploded for a career-high 350 all-purpose yards, rushing eight times for 72 yards, catching three passes for 104 yards and two scores, including a 33-yarder and returned four kickoffs for 174 yards with a 99-yard touchdown vs. Ball State…Gained 127 yards on fourteen rushes vs. Buffalo and carried twelve times for 229 yards and a score, as he also threw a 24-yard pass for a touchdown vs. Army…Ran for a 30-yard score on eleven tries for 129 yards vs. Akron and carried eleven times for 151 yards and a pair of touchdowns, adding 54 yards and a score on two catches and a 13-yard kickoff return for 218 all-purpose yards in the Miami (Oh.) clash…Followed with 241 yards on seventeen runs vs. Bowling Green.
Archer did not play after he was ruled academically ineligible…A course he retook did not count, so he fell below minimum standard…Attended practices that season and used extra time to get his academics in order.
Archer appeared in twelve games at tailback, but managed just 75 yards on sixteen catches with a score and 140 yards on forty carries (3.50 ypc) that included one touch-down…Gained 451 yards on 22 kickoff returns (20.5 avg).
A reserve tailback as a true freshman, Archer finished fourth on the team with 743 all-purpose yards.. Was second on the squad with 246 rushing yards on 58 carries (4.2 ypc) and also had 19 grabs for 231 yards…Posted four total touchdowns (three receiving, one rushing)…Led the team with a 24.18-yard average on 11 kick returns for 266 yards.
2012 Season…Archer suffered a left ankle sprain in the season finale vs. Ohio University that limited his playing time vs. Northern Illinois in the conference title game…Suffered a knee sprain in the second quarter vs. Arkansas State at the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
2013 Season…Suffered a left ankle sprain in the first quarter of the season opener vs. Liberty, missing the rest of that game and the following week vs. Bowling Green…Came back to play vs. Louisiana State, but left that contest when he re-injured the ankle and sat out the next clash vs. Penn State.
4.26 in the 40-yard dash…1.49 10-yard dash…2.51 20-yard dash…4.06 20-yard shuttle…
6.86 three-cone drill…38-inch vertical jump…10’-2” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times…31-inch arm length…8 7/8-inch hands…73 5/8-inch wingspan.
Archer attended Vencice (Laurel, Fla.) High School, playing football for head coach John Peacock…Received just a two-star prospect grade from both Rivals.com and Scout.com… Named team MVP, first team all-area and second team all-conference during his senior year…In 2008, he rushed for 1,482 yards and 17 touchdowns on just 145 carries (10.2 ypc), while adding 21 receptions for 402 yards and five scores…Helped lead the team to back-to-back district titles and an undefeated 2008 regular season…Returned kicks for the Indians, averaging 22.3 yards on both kickoffs and punts, including running back one punt for a touchdown…Also lettered in track and baseball, finishing second in the 100-meter final of the state track meet in his first full season of running (ahead of third place Denard Robinson, former Michigan quarterback and present Jacksonville Jaguar) with a time of 10.49 seconds.
Archer is majoring in Business Management…Son of Valerie Hart…Born 8/09/91…Resides in Laurel, Florida.