Hen football notebook: Ex-Sussex Tech star Kane gets chance as UD running back

NEWARK — Twice during Monday’s practice, Kani Kane went barreling into the pile.

And twice, the sturdily-built Delaware running back emerged on the other side.

Just like he used to do at Sussex Tech High.

Given that it was only practice, though, Kane had to admit he might not have been able to escape if it was a real game.

“I think I would have gotten away on the first one,” he said with a smile. “But the second one was tough.”

Still, it was Kane’s rare combination of size and speed that made him a 2,000-yard rusher as a senior at Sussex Tech — and now has given him a chance with the Blue Hens.

Former Sussex Tech High standout Kani Kane spent the lasts two seasons at Lackawanna, Pa. College before transferring to Delaware this summer. (Delaware sports information/Donna McBride)

After two years at Lackawanna, Pa. College, the 6-foot, 243-pounder is in his first preseason camp at Delaware as a preferred walk-on. First-year Blue Hen coach Danny Rocco is interested to see what the 20-year-old junior can do.

“He is a really neat kid,” said Rocco. “He wants to do well — he’s conscientious. He’s a big-body, tough kid. I’ve studied every ounce of film that I could find on him.

“I think he’s probably a few pounds heavier than he needs to be right now. But he has a skill set that will offer value as we get closer to the start of the season.”

“I think I can bring a lot of energy to the team,” said Kane. “I think I can help the team a lot with running the ball and pass blocking.”

Kani Kane gives the Hens some needed depth at running back this preseason. (Delaware sports information/Donna McBride)

Delaware certainly can use Kane right now.

In the last week, the Hens have lost senior Wes Hills to academic ineligibility and junior Kareem Williams, who is expected to miss a couple weeks with a broken finger.

That means there’s going to be some opportunities right now for the other six running backs on the roster. The Hens have also picked up redshirt-freshman DeJoun Lee, a 5-foot-7, 175-pound transfer from Army.

“Our running back position is a little bit ‘TBD’ right now,” said Rocco. “We’re working through a couple of things. So anybody that is here and eligible is a candidate. He (Kane) certainly shows the ability to be able to do some things with the ball.”

Kane knows he’s got plenty of work to do to get back to being the player who scored 25 touchdowns in his senior year at Sussex Tech. Ultimately, he’d like to get down to about 230 pounds.

But he’s excited to be back close to home again.

“A lot of people say they’re going to come to the first game,” said Kane. “That’s pretty exciting. Since I’ve been at Lackawana, I’ve been so far away.
“I kind of wanted to stay close to home, so my family could see me play,” he added.

Walker still No. 1

While Rocco is happy with what he’s seen from his quarterbacks as a group, junior Joe Walker is still clearly the starter.

At Monday’s practice, Walker took the first-team reps with sophomore Pat Kehoe and Appalachian State transfer J.P. Caruso splitting time with the second-team offense.

“Joe is certainly holding off the competition, in terms of getting most of the work with the ‘ones,’” said Rocco. “But we are rotating guys through with a pretty good system. And the receiving corps is starting to catch the ball with more confidence.”

Rocco, whose team opens the season by hosting Delaware State on Aug. 31, says he hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll try to play multiple QBs in a game. Both Walker and Caruso are dual-threat quarterbacks.

“I’ve done a number of different things with quarterbacks in terms of packages,” said Rocco. “And we certainly could do that. (But) I don’t see the necessity to have to do that.”

Extra points

Rocco singled out veteran receivers Diante Cherry and Jamie Jarmon, the former Indian River High standout, for their consistency in camp. “I think both of those guys have improved significantly here this summer in terms of their mental attitude, their preparation, their day-to-day ability to come out here and perform,” said Rocco. … Junior Kadeem Neill has made the unique move of transferring up from Wesley College to Delaware. Listed as a receiver now, the 6-1, 190-pounder was a free safety for the Wolverines. In two seasons, Neill played in 16 games with 22 tackles for the Wolverines. … M.J. Kehoe, Pat’s brother, has been switched from tackle to tight end. The sophomore stands 6-foot-7, 255. … The Hens are practicing from 8:45-11 a.m. every morning, Monday through Saturday, for the next two weeks. They have Sundays off. Delaware’s one preseason scrimmage is slated for Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. … Thanks to the artificial turf that was installed in the Field House, Delaware was able to have a normal practice despite Monday’s rainy weather.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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