Minnesota assistant head coach Kenni Burns has been named head football coach at Kent State, the school announced on Wednesday. Burns has been with the Gophers since 2017 and previously worked in the MAC in the RBs coach at Western Michigan.
“Kenni has been a key contributor to championship teams at every stop and was the most prepared candidate in the country to be a first-time head coach,” AD Randale Richmond said in a statement. “I have no doubt that Kenni and his staff will build upon the solid foundation of Kent State Football as we continue to graduate student-athletes, boldly prepared for life after sport and win championships.”
Burns is from Springfield, Illinois and was a running back for four seasons at Indiana before getting into coaching. Early jobs include stints at Southern Illinois (FCS), North Dakota State (FCS) and Wyoming.
He was hired at WMU by P.J. Fleck in 2016, followed him to Minnesota the following year and was elevated to assistant head coach in 2019. The Gophers went to four bowl games during his tenure and in 2019 finished ranked #10 in the nation.
“I am excited and humbled to lead the Kent State football program,” Burns said. “I am looking forward to getting to know the team and connecting with them on a personal level, and I am also excited to engage our alumni and fans as we begin to move this program forward. We have a lot of work and recruiting to do, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Former Kent State head coach Sean Lewis resigned earlier this month to take over as offensive coordinator at Colorado. He went 24-31 in six years at the helm with two bowl appearances, most recently a loss in the 2021 Famous Idaho Potato bowl. The Flashes were 5-7 (4-4) this past season.