Sussex Tech product Kane turning heads at UD

NEWARK — Kani Kane was pretty much an unknown to his new teammates in July.

The burly running back had been a high school star at Sussex Tech.

But he spent two seasons off the radar at Lackawanna Junior College before he walked on at Delaware over the summer.

“Coming in, I had no idea who he was,” said Blue Hen offensive lineman Steve Robinson. “Until during fall camp, I saw him run someone over pretty good. Then he started making a couple plays.

“We were like, ‘Who is that guy?’ He definitely made a name for himself pretty quick.”

Former Sussex Tech star Kani Kane is turning heads at the University of Delaware (Special to the Sussex Post).

These days, it’s hard to imagine Delaware’s offense without Kane.

A 6-foot, 230-pound junior, Kane is now the Hens’ leading rusher (97 carries-440 yards) after posting back-to-back 100-yard games. He also leads the squad in rushing touchdowns with six.

With Delaware (3-2 CAA, 5-3 overall) getting ready to play a 2 p.m. game on Saturday against Maine (3-3 CAA, 4-3 overall) in Portland, Kane has carried the ball 48 times for 222 yards in just the last two games.

First-year Hens’ coach Danny Rocco admits he thought Kane would be a fullback when he first saw him on film.

“He’s got a chance to be really good,” said Rocco. “We’ve got a lot of confidence in Kani right now in what he’s been able to learn.

“I think some of the core runs are becoming more and more natural for him. His footwork has gotten better, his aiming points have gotten better, his eyes are in the right spots.”

When Kane first came to Delaware over the summer, it looked like the Hens already had a top-notch group of running backs in Wes Hills, Thomas Jefferson and Kareem Williams. But Hills was an academic casualty in preseason and Jefferson has carried the ball only nine times in the last five games — and not at all in the last two contests.

On the other hand, Delaware gave the ball to Kane on four straight plays to start the second half at Towson and that jump-started a quick six-play, 71-yard scoring drive. Even on short runs, Kane seems to break a tackle or two.

Kane said he wasn’t particularly interested in individual numbers after the Hens’ 18-17 loss at Towson on Saturday.

“We came out with a loss so yards don’t really matter at this point,” said Kane, who had a career-high 113 yards on 22 carries. “We came out strong in the second half, on the first drive. After that, it kind of fell off. We just have to come out in practice this week and get better.”

Rocco said Kane is faster than he thought he’d be. But what Rocco also likes is that the newcomer is able to do more than just carry the ball.

“He found ways to help us in pass protection (on Saturday) — and not always necessarily his guy,” said Rocco. “He’s got an awful lot of value. We certainly need to continue to utilize Kani and Kareem.

“We’d like to be able to use even more of our running backs. But right now those are the two guys that I do think merit the burden of the carries.”

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