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OXFORD, Ohio – After spending the spring watching his teammates from the sidelines due to injury, Miami University junior linebacker Kent Kern has made his return felt on the defense in the first week of fall camp.

As full pad practices have gradually been introduced, the RedHawk defense has begun developing a mean streak while swarming to the ball. At the center of that unit is Kern, a Second-Team All-MAC selection who led the team with 98 tackles during the 2013 season. His experience and individual success are an excellent starting point for the Red and White defense, a unit that is expected to help stifle opposing offenses as Miami tries to get back to the lofty historic standard of years past.

“Camp has been fun so far,” Kern said. “The competition is intense on both sides of the ball and everyone is getting better every day. I enjoy taking on more of a leadership role, it’s great experience.”

Kern has played in all but one game during his first two seasons with the Red and White and has five games with double-digit tackles. He is one of seven returning defensive starters who aim to help the Red and White mold into a stronger unit than a year ago. In less than a week of camp, Kern is already reveling in the intensity of each practice after sitting out spring ball.

“I took a lot of mental reps during the spring and it made me feel like I was playing the whole time,” Kern said. “There hasn’t been much of a learning curve for me since camp started. I knew what I needed to know to get started, this has been a pretty smooth transition.”

One thing that has stood out on both sides of the ball during fall camp is how much more speed the RedHawks possess. That speed has made for quite the on field chess match between the offense and the defense.

“The offense has a lot of speed, and that is pushing us,” Kern said. “We are getting used to reaching the edges much faster so we can contain them.”

With each passing day of camp, more is being introduced. Wednesday’s tilt saw shoulder pads introduced for the first time and Friday’s finale practice was the first in full pads.

“It was a lot of fun practicing in full pads,” Kern said. “We competed well at both ends and it was good to hear the popping of full pads tackling. The defense is getting better every day and installing new schemes each night.”