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Liberty’s Nate Kent ready for new challenge after committing to Towson for football

Liberty's Nate Kent runs for a touchdown against Oakland Mills in a Class 2A West first round playoff football game at Liberty.
Liberty's Nate Kent runs for a touchdown against Oakland Mills in a Class 2A West first round playoff football game at Liberty.(Bill Ryan / For Carroll County T/Carroll County Times)

Nate Kent used Twitter on Monday afternoon to make official the biggest move to date of his football life.

The Liberty High School senior announced he’s committed to Towson University with plans to join the football team as a preferred walk-on, giving the two-time Times Player of the Year a chance to compete at the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision level.

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Kent said he received previous offers from Fairmont State University in West Virginia, and Frostburg State University in western Maryland. Neither turned into a good fit, Kent said, and the recruiting process lengthened before he connected with Towson about one month ago.

One of the Tigers’ quarterbacks suffered an injury during spring camp, Kent said, and Scott Van Zile, Towson’s quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator, began following Kent on Twitter. That led to the Tigers offering the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder a preferred walk-on position, meaning Kent won’t start out with a scholarship but will have a spot on Towson’s roster to begin the 2020 season.

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“It’s just a relief, honestly,” Kent said. “It has been certainly a long process. When I first envisioned it, it obviously didn’t go the way I planned. ... It has been a dream of mine to play college football at the Division I level for a long time. It’s an awesome feeling.”

Kent led Liberty to the Class 2A West Region championship last fall, and a spot in the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history. The Lions won the Carroll County Athletic League title and went 8-4, one year after putting together a 10-0 regular season to become the fifth team in Carroll history to achieve that feat.

Kent threw for 2,330 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2019, both of which led Carroll County. He also ran for 870 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. As a junior, Kent came to Lions from Westminster High School via transfer and passed for 1,511 yards and 22 touchdowns (he ran for 646 yards and scored 10 TDs).

Kent finished his high school career with 4,137 passing yards, the eighth best total in county history.

“All he wanted, really, was an opportunity,” said Liberty coach Larry Luthe. “He’s going to get that opportunity, and you’ve got to be happy when that happens for a kid.”

Liberty's McClain Butler and Nate Kent celebrate their victory over Glenelg in a 2A West regional playoff game on Friday. Nov. 15, 2019.
Liberty's McClain Butler and Nate Kent celebrate their victory over Glenelg in a 2A West regional playoff game on Friday. Nov. 15, 2019.(Bill Ryan/ For Howard County Tim/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Kent said he has been working with Chris Baucia, a private quarterbacks coach who started a training program called QB Factory in 1999, since he took up the position as a fifth-grader. Baucia called Kent a “gym rat” who loves to compete, and he compared him to former Carroll/QB Factory products such as Century graduate Josh Bordner (Boston College) and Westminster alum Christian Etchison (Shepherd).

“He is very soft-spoken, so you’re never going to hear a lot of complaining from him. And he’s just tough as nails,” Baucia said about Kent. “It’s the kind of guy you want in your program.”

Kent helped Liberty advance to the 2A state quarterfinals last fall by crafting a standout performance in the regional final, a tough road matchup against Glenelg. The Gladiators were state runners-up in 2018, but Kent ended their chance at making another run when he threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He added 86 rushing yards and a score in the Lions’ 35-28 win.

Baucia said QB Factory doesn’t market its athletes for college recruiters, but he had a good sense of Kent’s communication with Towson over the last month.

“I had a feeling that this was coming a couple of weeks ago. I had to basically keep my mouth shut,” Baucia said. “I was just praying that everything I thought was going to happen, was going to happen.”

Kent said he has still been able to work out with a trainer despite stay-at-home orders around the region, and he’ll keep it up to stay in shape before joining Towson and preparing for next season. The Tigers went 7-5 last year and boasted standout redshirt senior quarterback Tom Flacco, younger brother of former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who is garnering buzz as an NFL prospect.

Kent said he enjoys being in an “underdog” role as one of Towson’s preferred walk-on players. He used Baker Mayfield, a former walk-on at both Texas Tech and Oklahoma who worked his way into becoming the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, as an example.

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“I’m just trying to become the best quarterback I can possibly be at the start of camp,” Kent said. "Get my mind right, be prepared for the level of Division I football. ... It’s a really awesome opportunity for me. I’m a preferred walk-on guy, so I have nothing to lose and everything to prove.”

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