After graduating from James H. Blake High School in 2010, Kwabena Asante was prepared to fulfill a dream. He was going to the “big stage,” which for him meant playing major Division I college football.
But following a redshirt season in the fall of 2010 at West Virginia University, Asante — for one reason or another — was in search of a better opportunity. He ended up transferring to Monmouth University, a Division I-Football Championship Subdivision school, and has flourished in the Hawks program.
When players report Sunday for the start of training camp, the 5-foot-11, 215-pound fifth-year senior is expected to be Monmouth’s primary running back this fall. Asante split time in 2013 with former starter Julian Hayes, but is prepared to shoulder a heavier workload because Hayes was dismissed from the team during the offseason for a violation of school and team policy.
“I feel like I am a pretty balanced running back,” Asante said in a recent phone interview. “I can run with power, can get to the edge, catch the ball out of the backfield and get tough yards when we need it.”
Since transferring, Asante, a business administration major, has gradually become more and more of a key component to Monmouth’s offense. In 2011, he was strictly a special teams contributor. As a sophomore, he appeared in all 10 games (two starts) and rushed for 469 yards. Last year, he played in all 12 games, running for eight touchdowns and 1,080 yards (6.0 yards per carry), the sixth-highest total in program history for a single season.
First-year Monmouth offensive coordinator Kevin Morris said he was impressed with Asante on and off the field during spring practice and throughout the offseason. The Hawks are set to begin their first campaign as a member of the Big South Conference next month.
“He’s a very strong-looking young man,” Morris said. “... We will have a tailback-orientated offense that lets him carry the load.”
Asante, who was named to the College Football Performance Awards Preseason Watch List as one of 38 returning student athletes vying for the top running back award in the FCS, was a 2009 All-Gazette second team selection who ran for 2,711 yard in his final two years at Blake.
“KB’s always been a hard worker willing to do whatever it takes,” said Blake coach Tony Nazzoro, who added that he’s kept track of Asante’s career through various media outlets. “Once he found the right situation for him — if he stayed at West Virginia, I believe he would’ve been able succeed and find the field — at Monmouth he’s been able to flourish.”
Added Asante: “I’ve had a great opportunity [in college]. ... I’ve grown up and received a good education.”