KENT — Dri Archer has cartoonish speed. The Road Runner might not be able to outrun Kent State’s do-it-all running back.
So perhaps it’s fitting that the school has kicked off a unique Heisman Trophy campaign to promote the lightning-fast Archer that includes a comic strip depicting him as a college football superhero.
“The Archer” debuted Wednesday and will run weekly throughout the Golden Flashes’ season. It’s part of Kent State’s push to bring attention to the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Archer who is only small in stature. Everything about his game is huge.
Last season, the senior rushed for 1,429 yards, scored 16 rushing touchdowns and averaged an eye-popping 9 yards every time he carried the ball. Beyond that, he had 39 receptions, 4 TD catches, averaged 34.7 yards on kickoff returns and took three back all the way for scores.
He was among the nation’s leaders in all-purpose yards at 184 per game, and few of his TD scampers were of the did-he-really-just-do-that variety.
Archer’s comic strip is being drawn by Chuck Ayers, a Kent State alum known for illustrating the “Funky Winkerbean” and “Crankshaft” cartoons. Ayers was approached by the school’s athletic department to assist in promoting Archer and he was happy to help a fellow Golden Flash.
“It definitely was the Kent State connection that made me want to be a part of this project,” Ayers told The Associated Press. “Cartooning is what I do so being asked to draw these promotional strips felt like a perfect fit.”
The comic strip made its debut on a Twitter account (@Dri4Heisman) and will be printed in some area newspapers. Along with the strip, the school has constructed a “Dri4Heisman” website and Facebook page.
Each week, Ayers will be sent a storyboard by members of Kent State’s communications staff who will focus on their “superhero” taking down the mascot of the upcoming opponent.
Ayers admitted he’s not a “rabid sports fan” but he has passionately followed Kent State’s football program since graduating in 1971. There were some lean years in the decades in between for the Golden Flashes, who won 11 games last season and made their first bowl game in 40 years.
Ayers went to a couple home games last season, when he marveled at Archer’s on-field exploits.
“I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to meet him sometime,” Ayers said. “The real attention being attracted to KSU is coming from Dri. He’s an amazing player and great fun to watch.
“The strips are just a little bit of a different way of telling his story. Combining his talents with the efforts of an old alumnus is pretty cool.”