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YSU Penguin Athletics / QB Play
« on: September 12, 2018, 11:58:00 AM »
I keep going back and forth on the aspects of VanGorder vs. Mays.

-VG has a little quicker release, but not much. Additionally I think they both are about the same in knowing when to dump it.

-Mays has more power on the short passes, but we do not seem to have a receiving RB this year (something I really miss) so it may not matter. While VG has better touch on medium passes. Long passes I would call a draw.

-They are two different types of runners, with Mays better off-line for yards and VG better at getting open to throw.

-Mays seems to read the field slightly better, but neither is up to par.

-As to leadership, I have to think that we do not fall apart so easily under Mays ...simply because of experience.

So it is still a draw and I would like to see how Mays performs. Any other thoughts?

The No. 24-ranked Youngstown State football team plays host to Butler at Stambaugh Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff for the season-opening contest is set for 2 p.m. A full afternoon of actitivies is planned for the game.

Tailgating festivities are set to begin at 8 a.m. in the M-63 and M-70 Lots. Beer will be on sale in both lots beginning at 8 o'clock. Parking in the premium M-71 and M-72 lots is available at that time. Parking in the M-62 Surface Lot (Lincoln Avenue), M-66 Lot and either deck (M-30 and M-60) is just $5.

The Penguins will march through the M-70 Tailgate Lot before the contest on Saturday. YSU is scheduled to walk through the M-70 Tailgate Lot at 10:30 a.m. to greet fans on the way to the stadium.

In the M-70 Tailgate Lot, an AT&T Interactive Fan Display will be open for fans beginning at 11 a.m.

At 12:45 p.m., the YSU Marching Pride, which will be joined by the Bay High School Marching Band, will hold their Icebreaker just North of the Andrews Recreation and Wellness Center.

Members of the YSU baseball program will be selling merchandise near the M-63 Lot and then at the game on the West Stands Concourse. The program will be accepting credit cards for purchases.

All fans attending the game will receive a schedule magnet courtesy of Pizza Hut, Chemical Bank and 21 WFMJ.

During the game members of the softball team will be selling 50/50 Raffle Tickets.

As always, YSU students are admitted free with a valid student ID with seating on the East Side stands. Tickets on gameday are $20 for reserved seats. The YSU Athletic Ticket Office is open until 6 p.m. on prior to the contest.

For those individuals who cannot make Saturday's game can follow the game via LIVE STATS | LIVE VIDEO | LIVE AUDIO. Fans need a subscription to ESPN+ to watch Saturday's contest.

During the game, the YSU Women's Tennis team will receive on-field recognition. The Bay High School Marching Band will perform at halftime along with the YSU Marching Pride.

Saturday's Schedule

8 a.m. - Tailgate Lots (M-63 and M-70) open | Parking available in M-62/M-72
9 a.m. - Athletic Ticket Office opens
9 a.m. - Car Coach Display (West Side of Stadium)
10:30 a.m. - TEAM WALK through M-70 Tailgate Lot
11 a.m. - AT&T Interactive Fan Display M-70 Tailgate Lot
12:30 p.m. - Stambaugh Stadium Gates Open
12:30 p.m. - North/South/East Side Ticket Booths Open
12:45 p.m. - Icebreaker Pre-game Concert (North of Andrews Wellness and Recreation Center)
1 p.m. - 570 WKBN YSU Tailgate Show Live from M-70 Lot
1 p.m. - Mosure Hall of Gridiron Glory Opens on Concourse Level
1:40 p.m. - YSU Marching Pride Pregame Show
2 p.m. - Tailgate Lot Closes
2:04 p.m. - YSU vs. Butler

Halftime: YSU Marching Pride, Bay High School Marching Band

Postgame: Fifth-Quarter Call-in Radio Show on 570 WKBN

On Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter fans are encouraged to use #GoGuins and #PenguinNation when posting photos, videos or tweets. If you need assistance in the tailgate lot contact YSU Police @YSUpolice on twitter or call (330) 941-3527.

Fan Services and credit card sales are available on at the YSU Athletic Ticket Office inside Stambaugh Stadium. Visiting team will call is located behind the East stands.

YSU Penguin Athletics / First Conference in Bowling
« on: August 30, 2018, 09:14:04 PM »
The Penguins joined the Southland Bowling League earlier this month, and the SBL Championships will be held on March 22-24 in Dallas, Texas. Prior to that, YSU will compete in four regular-season tournaments in the fall and four more in the spring. The Penguins will also have the chance to bowl at the USBC Sectionals the second weekend of March.

"Our schedule is going to look a little different this year," Gilliam said. "We have added a few new tournaments to balance our schedule out a little. We will still have a very tough schedule and compete against all of the top teams. I feel this year is going to be even better for our program. Now that we have a couple of seasons under our belt, we know what to expect and what we need to do to be at the top of our game."

Just as it has the previous two years, the Penguins will begin the campaign at the Bud Whitman Memorial in Reading, Pa., on Oct. 13-14. YSU will then bowl three straight weekends in November at the Track Kat Klash (Houston, Texas), the Warhawk Classic (Milwaukee, Wis.) and the Hawk Classic Invitational (Millsboro, Del.). The Warhawk Classic and the Hawk Classic Invitational will both be new tournaments for Youngstown State.

Exactly two months after the conclusion of the Hawk Classic Invitational, YSU's spring slate will begin at the KU Invitational (Limerick, Pa.). The Penguins will then head to the Orlando area on Feb. 8-10 for the Sunshine State Winter Classic in their only tournament of the month. March is the busiest month on the schedule with the Hawk Flight Invite (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.), USBC Sectionals, the Music City Classic (Smyrna, Tenn.) and the SBL Championships (Dallas, Texas) in four consecutive weekends.

The NCAA Championships will be April 11-13 at RollHouse Wickliffe in Wickliffe, Ohio, and the USBC Championships will be at Poelking Lanes South in Dayton, Ohio.

YSU Penguin Athletics / YSU Announces 2018 Football Broadcast Plans
« on: August 25, 2018, 10:21:46 AM »
The Youngstown State Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is proud to announce that NewsRadio 570 WKBN, an iHeartMedia station, will once again serve as the radio home for Youngstown State football game broadcasts while WFMJ will serve as the host of the Penguin Gameday TV Show and YSU's road conference games will air on WBCB TV.

Play-by-play voice Bob Hannon returns for his 30th season calling the action of Youngstown State football in 2018. Hannon, the president and chief professional officer of the Youngstown/Mahoning Valley United Way, has called more than 350 YSU games since 1989. Making his return as analyst is former Cardinal Mooney and NFL offensive lineman Ed Muransky. Muransky, a prominent Youngstown businessman, played professionally for the Los Angeles Raiders from 1982-84. Handling sideline duties at home this season is Mike Yourstowsky with Drae Smith filling the role on the road. Fans can also listen to all YSU football game broadcasts on the iHeartRadio App.

With the return of Youngstown State football, comes the return of YSU's two weekly Coaches' Shows. Penguins' fans can join Head Coach Bo Pelini at Cassese's MVR in Youngstown every Monday during the season for his radio show, "Penguin Playbook", hosted by Hannon. The program, presented by Southwoods Health, will air live on 1390 WNIO "The Sports Animal" from 6–8 p.m. with the first hour focusing on YSU's other sports like soccer and volleyball.  The first radio show is set for Monday, August 27.

Mike Orto once again returns to handle engineering duties for all the football games and weekly radio shows.

On Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. on 21 WFMJ, fans can an inside look at the YSU football team on Coach Pelini's television show, "Penguin Gameday", presented by Greenwood Chevrolet. The half-hour fast-paced program will be hosted by WFMJ sports director Dana Balash. Much like the weekly radio show, "Penguin Gameday" will showcase YSU student-athletes and assistant coaches.

Through an agreement with the Missouri Valley Football Conference and ESPN, all YSU football home games will be streamed live on ESPN Plus and on the ESPN app. Jim Campbell returns to handle the play-by-play with Drae Smith joining him as the analyst. The road game at Western Illinois will be streamed exclusively on ESPN3 and the Watch ESPN App with the other three conference road games televised live on WBCB.

By Brian Dzenis


Youngstown State is sticking with the quarterback nicknamed “Gummy.”

After Tuesday’s practice, head coach Bo Pelini named senior Montgomery VanGorder the starting QB for the Sept. 1 season opener against Butler.

“I think he’s confident. For the most part, he makes good decisions — he hasn’t been perfect by any means — but I think he’s got better,” Pelini said. “He has a good handle on our offense and he’s made plays. I feel really good about where he is in his development.

“We’ve thrown a lot of stuff at him defensively, but he’s handled it very well.”

VanGorder has been exclusively practicing with the first team for the past week as incumbent Nathan Mays sat with a nerve issue in his leg. He wasn’t at practice as he was undergoing further medical evaluation, but Pelini isn’t concerned with his availability for the season.

“We actually got positive news on it,” Pelini said “We didn’t know what was causing his issue, but the doctors are on it and we can get it fixed.”

VanGorder will make his first college start. The Buford, Ga., native was a reserve quarterback for the past three seasons at Notre Dame, only getting on the field last year as a holder for kicks.

A conversation with Pat Pelini — Bo’s son and a walk-on with the Irish — led VanGorder to the Penguins.

“I’m just going to treat it the way I’ve been treating it my entire life. I’ve been playing quarterback since I’ve been putting pads on,” VanGorder said of his first start. “You try to keep everything the same from practice and you apply it to the game.

“Obviously, there’s more emotions involved. You have a band, the crowd and all that stuff. You have to zone out and focus on the 11 guys in the huddle.”

YSU has had a shaky history with keeping quarterbacks upright, using four in 2016 and three in 2017. Even with the QB job settled, there’s still the possibility Mays could see the field in certain situations, quarterbacks coach Joe Ganz said. If history is an indication, the rest of the QBs need to stay ready.

“I was in that situation when I played and I tell those guys you’re one play away from being a starter,” Ganz said.

“It’s helped them by seeing us play two or three quarterbacks, so you have to be ready so you don’t get embarrassed on the field. It keeps the guys engaged, but you hope you’ll be that ultimate competitor to be a starter.”


VanGorder isn’t the only Georgia native earning a starting role.

Sophomore Terray Bryant — who is from Atlanta — has excelled at camp in a short amount of time. He was a reserve player last year when he was injured playing special teams against Indiana State. He missed the final three games of the season and spring practice.

He entered fall camp as a linebacker, but injuries to DeShon Taylor and Kyle Hegedus have him dropping 15 pounds to start at safety.

“My head was spinning at first, but I know I’m an athlete and I know my teammates needed me,” Bryant said.

“They needed me to play safety, so I play safety. If they need me to play linebacker, I’ll play linebacker.”

Bryant intercepted VanGorder in practice and came close to doing it a second time on Tuesday.


Late lineup changes aren’t just limited to the field at YSU. Ed Muransky, Youngstown businessman and former NFL lineman, is rejoining Bob Hannon in the broadcast booth to do color commentary for YSU games on WKBN-AM 570. The pair took in practice on Tuesday.

“They asked me to do them a favor,” Muransky said. I’ve worked with Bob before and it’s an easy transition doing this in August and I can step up and help out.”

Muransky is replacing Chris Sammarone, who is campaigning for a judge’s seat in Sebring, which prohibits him from working as a broadcaster. Muransky previously worked with Hannon from 2010-13.

“The nice thing about Ed is that he played at a high level. He brings instant credibility and the coaches are comfortable talking to him and they’re comfortable with him talking to the players,” Hannon said.

“What I remember about Ed is that he’s a very busy guy. In his first year, he had a playbook for me. He didn’t miss practice and he was ready to go. It was impressive.”

YSU Penguin Athletics / Vindicator: Kennedy eying a bounce back year
« on: August 19, 2018, 09:46:14 AM »
By Brian Dzenis


Zak Kennedy wanted harder practices and his wish has been granted this fall.

At the end of every Youngstown State football practice, the field goal unit lines up with the entire roster and coaching staff yelling at them. It’s pretend football, but the stakes are real. A miss could mean the team has to perform additional drills as punishment.

“I was talking a couple of our coaches about it. When we do our field goal sessions in practice, it’s just second nature to me now. It’s really comfortable,” Kennedy said. “We needed something to get me out of my comfort zone a little bit and act more like a game-time situation.”

The Cardinal Mooney graduate enters his senior season as one of a small number of four-year Penguins starters and is coming off of his worst season to date. In an injury-marred 2017, he was 8 for 13 on field goals with his longest make coming in at 36 yards — 10 yards shorter than the previous season.

“I don’t want to blame my injury for what happened, but I couldn’t get enough reps with my snapper [Steven Wethli] because I need to lay back,” Kennedy said. “As the weeks went on, I started doing better, but it definitely held me back as far as getting reps in.”

He isn’t too concerned about his job security and both head coach Bo Pelini and special teams coordinator Ron Stoops consider him the starter even with freshman Grant Gonya and sophomore Colin Burdette (Hubbard) on the roster.

“He’s our guy. I think he’s recovered from what was ailing him,” Stoops said. “He’s had a good summer and camp and we’re excited.”

Bouncing back from a down season isn’t Kennedy’s first go with adversity. During his freshman season, he didn’t get along with his long snapper, Wethli. Neither player could explain the source of the acrimony, just that they came from similar backgrounds as sons of firemen and that they’re both from military families.

“It was anything and everything,” Wethli said of their freshman year fights. “Out of practice. In practice. It’s weird to explain because as much issues as we had, we broke records that year.”

The pair were roommates last year and Kennedy is now a fan of Wethli’s work.

“We just became close,” Kennedy said of fixing the relationship.

The rest of the Missouri Valley Football Conference appreciates Wethli’s work too, as he made the all-preseason team this fall. In three years, he’s only had two bad snaps, but one of his most memorable snaps was one that didn’t make the stat sheet.

“My holders have saved me. [Offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo] made me apologize to Tanner Garry in South Dakota during my freshman year because I put it on the ground and he scooped it up,” Wethli said. “It was a perfect hold. He was cool about it and accepted it. He was doing his job when I didn’t quite do mine.”

Wethli is eyeing the NFL when his college career is over. In 2018, he, Kennedy and holder Kyle Hegedus look to do one of football’s thankless jobs.

“When it goes good, it goes good and nobody really notices it,” Wethli said.


Quarterback Nathan Mays and defensive end Ma’Lik Richmond sat out Thursday’s practice with foot injuries. Both were spotted wearing walking boots.

Pelini said Mays is day-to-day with soreness and Richmond was resting because he received a cortisone injection on Thursday. Cortisone shots are used to relieve pain and inflammations in joints.

Mays’ absence allowed for more reps for Montgomery VanGorder and Joe Craycraft at QB. At defensive end, there were more reps for redshirt freshman Antoine Cook and converted linebacker Tyler Sims, who picked up a sack Thursday.

“He’s a third-down rusher. That’s what he is and he can help us in that regard,” Pelini said. “He’s embraced that role and he’s doing well.”

Tight end Kierre Hawkins is expected to start running again next week after suffering a knee injury last week.

YSU Penguin Athletics / Vindy: Injuries force changes at safety for YSU
« on: August 19, 2018, 09:29:44 AM »
By Brian Dzenis, Youngstown Vindicator


It wasn’t planned this way, but Youngstown State is prepared to go into the season without both its starting safeties.

The Penguins’ defense has taken another blow this offseason with starter Kyle Hegedus tearing his ACL. Piling onto the bad news is senior Deshon Taylor’s football career coming to an abrupt end. Saturday’s scrimmage was a chance to put their replacements to work.

“We move on. I feel bad because the guy works hard and he’s a leader — the guy’s a warrior,” head coach Bo Pelini said of Hegedus. “At the same time, if it’s going to happen, it better happen early. It’s given us a chance to make some adjustments.”

Taylor was slated to become the replacement for the graduated Jayln Powell, but back issues will keep him off the field.

“He was having some kind of tingling in his arm and any time you have that thing going on, we [had him undergo an MRI exam],” Pelini said. “He has a deal where he doesn’t have enough separation in his vertebrae and when that happens, you’re done. He’s got a long life ahead of him and we don’t want to see him in a wheelchair.”

Taylor will stay around as an undergraduate coach. Because his injuries occurred earlier in camp, YSU was already at work figuring out who can step in at safety. On Saturday, senior Avery Larkin was in Hegedus’ strong safety spot and sophomore Terray Bryant was at free safety.

Senior Crispin Lee, sophomore Sam McGuigan and senior wideout Donovan McWilson converted to saftey to help shore up some depth.

The new-look secondary got a trial by fire from YSU’s wideouts. Montgomery VanGorder — who got all the first-team reps with Nathan Mays still wearing a walking boot — hit Jeremiah Braswell for a 50-yard touchdown pass, while going 7 for 14 for 125 yards with no turnovers. Samuel St. Surin caught three passes for 43 yards.

“For us, it’s about getting them the best looks that we can so we can get their feet wet,” Braswell said. “We know they’re new guys, young guys and people who haven’ been here a long time and it’s on us to give them the best game-time looks.”

The second- and third-string defenses won the turnover battle as QBs Joe Craycraft and Jaden Cunningham each threw two picks.

Braswell and St. Surin are the starters at wideout, Pelini said. YSU’s receivers took six games to score a touchdown and seven to get 100 yards in a game. The pair is ready if called upon.

“It’s going to come. It might be the first game. It might be the last game,” St. Surin said of a breakout game. “It’s about not being selfish and sticking to the game plan.


Wesley Thompson got a foot in the door for a starting job in spring ball and hasn’t left. In the team’s second scrimmage, the redshirt sophomore from Boardman continued to get first-team reps at defensive tackle and looks to be playing his way into a starting role with consistently good performances.

Thompson said he’s following the rules for his position: Pay attention to details and discipline, don’t take plays off and be a good teammate.

“Since I’ve been a freshman here, I’ve been messing up the little things. There’s times where I thought I’d never play and then [Savon Smith] was down all spring,” Thompson said. “I gained the confidence that I needed and I’ve been rolling with it.”

It’s a similar scenario for redshirt freshman Antoine Cook. Ma’Lik Richmond’s recent foot injury has pressed him into a first-team role. On Saturday, Cook picked up two sacks and he credits his time red-shirting in 2017 to prepare him for this season.

“It kind of humbled me. It taught me that I have to perfect the small things to become a starter, but I still have juniors and seniors in front of me,” Cook said. “I’m just being patient. I’m stilling learning and trying to perfect everything that I do and do what I have to do to help the team.”

YSU Penguin Athletics / Farrell grad climbing depth chart
« on: August 13, 2018, 11:03:04 AM »
By Brian Dzenis

Braxton Chapman feels like himself again and Youngstown State stands to reap the benefits.
The redshirt freshman running back has spent this fall in a crowded backfield and has quickly found himself climbing the depth chart, sitting just below senior Tevin McCaster and sophomore Christian Turner.

It’s a far cry from last fall. Chapman couldn’t get on the field in 2017 because he was recovering from a torn ACL. He tore it during a playoff game during his senior season at Farrell in 2016. It was an anti-climatic end for the Steelers’ all-time leading rusher at 3,067 yards. His first time back on the field was during spring practice.

“It’s very humbling. I mean it took a lot out of me mentally, but it’s made me a better person today,” Chapman said. “I believe God makes no mistakes. It was something I had to go through and I learned a lot from that experience.”
In Saturday’s scrimmage, Chapman saw the bulk of the carries, running eight times for 115 yards while showing no ill effects from his injury. He broke off a 75-yard touchdown run down the left sideline.
“You saw Braxton have a really good day today,” head coach Bo Pelini said.

No matter how many carries Chapman receives this fall, he’ll be grateful just to be on the field.

“It gave me a new perspective on everything. You can be playing the game one day and it can be taken away the next,” Chapman said. “There were times where I didn’t know if I could even get back to this level. I just thank God, man.”

By Brian Dzenis

After some early misfires, Montgomery VanGorder showed a little bit of everything in YSU’s first fall scrimmage, but junior Nathan Mays also did enough for the incumbent to keep his name in the conversation.

“I thought they both did some good things. They both have plays here and there that they want back, but it’s a start,” Penguins head coach Bo Pelini said. “We’re not really game-planning for anything, but they showed some good qualities.
“The guy who starts is the one who’s most efficient over time over the next couple of weeks. [He] is the guy who takes control and not just win a football game for you, but more importantly, don’t lose a football game for you.”

With the exception of some cameo appearances from redshirt freshman Joe Craycraft, Saturday’s scrimmage at Fitch Falcon Stadium mostly featured Mays and VanGorder going back and forth. VanGorder, a senior transfer from Notre Dame, began with the first-team offense and started out 0 for 5 with an interception that DJ Smalls returned 50 yards for a touchdown. After that, VanGorder was nine for 11 for 127 yards and a 32-yard TD pass to tight end Miles Joiner. He also rushed for 56 yards.

“The biggest thing for me is marrying up my feet with my reads and my throws, making the right decisions, taking my checkdowns when they’re there and really being a leader with this offense,” VanGorder said. “That’s what [offensive coordinator Brian Crist] wants from me and Nate. We need a leader on offense to establish that tone and set the standard for others.”

Mays was 6 for 12 for 129 yards. He hit tight end Charles Reeves for a 73-yard touchdown pass and was sacked once by sophomore defensive tackle Wes Thompson.
“Nate is just working to get better everyday,” Pelini said. “I think he is getting better and I think there’s good competition so far.”
Within a span of a few days, YSU’s depth at tight end heading into Saturday’s took some hits, the severity of which are still being determined.

On Thursday, Chris Durkin left practice with a shoulder injury and on Friday, Ohio State transfer Kierre Hawkins went down with a leg injury. Neither player dressed for the scrimmage and Hawkins was on crutches.
Durkin’s injury is considered to be the more minor of the two with it not affecting his availability for the regular season. Hawkins, a sophomore, is the unknown.

“When it happened, it looked like it was going to be a season-ending injury, but right now it’s not going to be the case,” Pelini said. “We don’t really know how it’s going to respond. I think it’s better today than it was yesterday. It’s week-to-week and we’ll see how it progresses.”

The pair’s absence opened the door for more reps for Reeves, a Pitt transfer who arrived in late July, and Joiner.
The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Reeves left Pitt this summer after redshirting the previous season and when it came time to find a new home, the Steubenville graduate turned to former teammate Ma’lik Richmond. He credits the junior defensive end and volunteer coach Cole Peterson — who once held a similar role at Pitt — for selling him on Youngstown.
“Me and Ma’lik, we’ve been friends since middle school. I told him I needed somewhere to go,” Reeves said. “I just wanted to play ball somewhere.”
Reeves caught two passes for 85 yards and touchdown. Joiner also caught two passes for 52 yards and a score.

Canfield’s Jake Cummings tied the team lead in receptions with four for 35 yards. Cardinal Mooney’s Ray Anderson tied for second in tackles with five and Austintown Fitch’s Nick DeSalvo got a few punts in with the special teams unit on his home field.

YSU Penguin Athletics / YSU defense gets upper hand in practice
« on: August 10, 2018, 09:57:50 AM »
By Brian Dzenis


A tipped Joe Craycraft pass ended in the hands of Youngstown State nickel Avery Larkin, then linebacker Curtis Parks came up with a fumbled ball on the next play. On the third try at a successful play by the Penguins’ reserve offense, the ball made its way to Cardinal Mooney graduate Ray Anderson — another linebacker via a fumble — and practice was put on pause.

It was time for the offense do some extra pushups and for the defense to celebrate.

“It always feels good to get turnovers. It gives us that energy we need,” Larkin said. “We came out ready to practice and when we force turnovers, it elevates practice even more.”

Just to ensure that Thursday’s practice belonged to the defense, it blocked Zak Kennedy’s end-of-practice field goal try. Freshman Grant Gonya was given a chance to bail out the offense with another try, but the kick went wide right, prompting additional punishment in the form of “six inches,” a workout where players lay flat and hold their feet six inches above the ground.

Head coach Bo Pelini was forgiving of his reserve offense, citing their youth.

“You don’t want to see it at any time, but I thought it was a good day period for both sides,” Pelini said. “I thought the offense got the best of the defense yesterday and today, I thought it was good competition.

“We didn’t have as good a day yesterday as I liked, but we responded today.”

YSU’s secondary has taken a hit this offseason with the graduation of safety Jalyn Powell and the replacement for the Warren Harding grad, senior Deshon Taylor, is currently not practicing with back issues. Pelini has shifted players around to try and find a guy to pair with junior Kyle Hegedus. Seniors Crispin Lee and Larkin have had reps at safety even though both have been cornerbacks during their time at YSU. Both have impressed.

“I think they’ve got better. Crispin is a little ahead of Avery, but that’s because Avery hasn’t done it as long,” Pelini said. “We have a lot of guys that are capable there, but Crispin is really starting to understand it and Avery has showed us he can help at safety.”

Lee has been a reserve defense and special teams player in previous seasons.

“Everything’s been going fast-paced, but I gotta learn the nickel and safety,” Lee said. “The coaches have been teaching me and it’s going well.”

Like Lee, Larkin is picking up the safety position in addition to working as a nickel. He started six games last year, grabbing an interception. Both will have jobs in the fall regardless of how the safety position battle plays out. Each can play nickel, with cornerbacks Bryce Gibson and DJ Smalls returning as starters on the outside.

YSU was the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s best defense against the pass, giving up just 143.7 passing yards per game.

“We just executed well. We didn’t have a lot of missed assignments,” Larkin said. “We were aggressive on the outside and fit the run well.”


Another player who’s done well filling in for a graduated player is junior Cash Mitchell at linebacker, taking the place of Lee Wright.

“Going off of Lee, he understood the defense well so it was kind of easy,” Mitchell said. “I was always ready if he went down last year and it’s all been kind of falling together.”

Mitchell got on the field for the first time last year, getting 15 tackles in nine appearances.

“I think he’s playing really well. Cash’s understanding has got really good,” Pelini said. “He’s playing good. He’s playing physical and he’s getting better and better. He takes coaching really well and he’s a really talented kid.”


As the players were doing their final stretches on the field, another crew was getting to work. Workers have already started assembling the staging area for Saturday’s Florida Georgia Line concert at Stambaugh Stadium. The concert pushes the football team to the WATTS on Friday and to Austintown Fitch High School on Saturday.

YSU Penguin Athletics / MOVED: buckeye nation
« on: August 06, 2018, 12:17:10 PM »

YSU Penguin Athletics / Fall Camp Practice Schedule
« on: August 04, 2018, 07:09:36 PM »
Fall Camp Practice Schedule

Saturday, August 4 – 9:30 a.m. (Fan Day at 1:30 p.m.)
Sunday, August 5 – OFF
Monday, August 6 - 9:45 a.m.
Tuesday, August 7 - 9:45 a.m.
Wednesday, August 8 - 9:45 a.m.
Thursday, August 9 - 9:45 a.m.
Friday, August 10 - 9:45 a.m. (Watts)
Saturday, August 11 - 9:45 a.m. (Watts)
Sunday, August 12 – OFF
Monday, August 13 - 9:45 a.m.
Tuesday, August 14 - 9:45 a.m.
Wednesday, August 15 - 9:45 a.m.
Thursday, August 16 - 9:45 a.m.
Friday, August 17 - 9:45 a.m.
Saturday, August 18 - 9:45 a.m.
Sunday, August 19 – OFF

Let's see some fans in the stands. We will probably not see any open practices after these.

North Dakota State has been tabbed as the Missouri Valley Football Conference pre-season favorite in a poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors.  NDSU has been picked first in the pre-season poll for seven-straight seasons. North Dakota State has earned the league title for seven-straight years, four times sharing it with another league school.  This year, NDSU was a unanimous choice, receiving all 39 first-place tallies and a total of 390 points. It marks just the second time in league history that a team received all of the first-place votes in the MVFC pre-season poll (NDSU also did it in 2013.)   South Dakota State earned the second spot in the poll, finishing with 340 total points, followed by UNI (270), Youngstown State (258), Illinois State (248) and South Dakota (206).   The league is coming off a season in which five teams represented the conference in the playoffs.  The MVFC has had four or more playoff teams in four-straight seasons (earning five each in 2014, 2015 and last year).  Western Illinois was one of the league's five playoff teams a year ago, and the Leathernecks -- with new head coach Jared Elliott at the helm -- are picked seventh with 163 total points.  Western is followed by Southern Illinois (139), Missouri State (90) and Indiana State (41) in the voting.
  A pre-season favorite has claimed the league crown 20 times (in 32 previous polls).  North Dakota State was picked to win the league last season, and the Bison earned both the league title and the national title (following a 17-13 win over previously unbeaten James Madison in the NCAA Division I Football Championship game in Frisco, Texas).

  Valley Football is celebrating its 34th season in 2018.  In its first 33 seasons the league owns eight national crowns.  MVFC teams combined for an 8-4 record in last year's playoffs, while North Dakota State and South Dakota State both reached the semifinals.  That marks the third time in the past four years in which two league teams played in the semis.  North Dakota State, meanwhile, represented the league in the title game, marking the 7th-straight year at least one MVFC team has reached the championship game -- an FCS record.  Notably, MVFC teams have combined for a 52-23 record in the playoffs this decade.  Only one other league has as many as 20 wins since 2010 (CAA Football is next best with 37.)  The 2018 season begins Thursday, Aug. 30, with four league teams in action.  Nine non-conference games feature road matchups against FBS opponents.  An MVFC school has recorded a win against an FBS school in each of the past eight seasons, setting a league record in 2016 with four that year.  Conference play begins Thursday, Sept. 27, as Indiana State hosts UNI in the first league tilt of the season.  The MVFC will announce its pre-season all-conference teams this week (Tuesday-Offense; Wednesday-Defense).  North Dakota State tops the league with 11 total selections, including a league-best eight on the first-team unit.  South Dakota State, meanwhile, has the second-most selections, with eight total honorees.   Youngstown State has five first-team selections, meanwhile, which is second-best to NDSU.

2018 Valley Football Preseason PollTeam (first-place votes) .......................Points
 1. North Dakota State (39) ......................390
 2. South Dakota State ............................340
 3. UNI .....................................................270
 4. Youngstown State ...............................258
 5. Illinois State ........................................248
 6. South Dakota ......................................206
 7. Western Illinois ...................................163
 8. Southern Illinois ..................................139
 9. Missouri State .......................................90
10. Indiana State .......................................41

The Youngstown State baseball program has added a pair of transfers, right-handed pitcher Cade Negley and first baseman Trevor Wiersma, to its 2019 signing class, Head Coach Dan Bertolini announced on Thursday.

Negley, who was a sought-after recruit coming out Butler, Pa., joins the program after spending his freshman campaign at Santa Clara University in 2018. The YSU coaching staff expects Negley to be a major contributor to the team's pitching staff right away in 2019.

Wiersma, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, comes to YSU by way of Division II Concord University in West Virginia, where he was a standout for the Mountain Lions over the past three seasons. He is expected to serve as a key bat in the middle of the team's order, filling a major need for a left-handed hitter.

Information on both of the student-athletes who have signed with the program is available below:

Cade Negley

RHP | 6'2 | 210 | Butler, Pa. | Butler Senior High School | Santa Clara

Highlights: As a freshman at UC Santa Clara, appeared in 18 games out of the bullpen and started once on the mound at Cal... Earned the win against Utah as he threw five shutout innings of relief in an extra-inning victory... Finished the season with a 1-0 record and ranking fourth on the team in appearances... Also recorded a save against Sacramento State... At Butler Senior High School in Pennsylvania, earned all-section honors as both a designated hitter and as a pitcher... Was named first-team all-section at Class AAAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as a junior... Was a second-team all-section pick as a sophomore... Struck out 45 batters in 40 innings while allowing a .215 batting average as a senior... Named to the 2017 Rawlings-Perfect Game pre-season underclassman honorable mention list... Was also a 2016 Rawlings-Perfect Game pre-season Atlantic region honorable mention selection... Earned three letters in baseball and two in basketball... Parents are John and Heston Negley... Graduated from Butler Senior with Honors and Distinction for having a GPA over 4.3... Plans on majoring in accounting at YSU.

Coach Bertolini on Negley: "We are excited to welcome Cade to the Youngstown State Baseball Family. Cade gained valuable experience at Santa Clara last season as he was able to pitch against some of the top college programs in the West. Cade was a highly sought-after prospect in Pennsylvania in high school, and we are so glad he decided to come back home and represent YSU. He has an above average fastball, great feel for his secondary pitches and the composure and command to be a weekend arm for us this season."

Negley on choosing YSU: "I chose YSU because of the family feel it gave me. I am excited to start my journey at YSU."

Trevor Wiersma

1B | 6'3 | 225 | Vancouver, British Columbia | West Vancouver Secondary | Concord

Highlights: Played in 145 games and made 140 starts over three seasons at Division II Concord University... Batted at least .320 in all three seasons and hit eight home runs as both a sophomore and junior... Was named the Mountain East Conference Freshman of the Year in 2016, and he was a First-Team All-MEC selection as both a freshman and sophomore... Was an Honorable Mention All-MEC pick as a junior... Hit .362 with four home runs, 18 doubles and 49 RBIs as a redshirt freshman in 2016... Followed that up with a .331 average, eight home runs and 49 RBIs as a sophomore... Overcame a slow start in 2018 to hit .323 with eight homers... Batted .386 over his final 88 at bats of the season... Parents are Sandy and Jill Wiersma... Will work toward his Master's in Business Administration at YSU.

Bertolini on Wiersma: "Trevor had an outstanding career at Concord under Coach Garrett. He not only excelled on the baseball field, but he was also a standout in the classroom. We were really looking for a left-handed, middle-of-the-order-type hitter, and Trevor fits our need perfectly. Trevor's maturity and leadership qualities make him the type of player who will make an immediate impact in our lineup."

Wiersma on choosing YSU: "YSU is the perfect place for me to continue my athletic and academic career. The baseball program and campus in general is on the rise and I can't wait to be a part of it. I am extremely excited to join such a promising program while also getting a tremendous graduate education."

Youngstown State Athletics is introducing the #PenguinNationChallenge, an incentive-based referral program that allows current football season-ticket holders a chance to receive prizes to help bolster our season-ticket roster for the upcoming 2018 season. Only new season-ticket holders are eligible (may not have held season tickets in 2017, but could have held season tickets prior to 2017 season) to be referred by current season-ticket holders for them to earn awards.

This incentive-based referral program helps the Penguins family, friends and co-workers grow our new season-ticket holders. The home opener is on Sept. 1 against Butler and that will be the final day you can refer anyone for season tickets.

Any referral that was made before June 30 will not be accepted for the program.

Fans are encouraged to use the #PenguinNationChallenge hashtag on your social media accounts to bring awareness to the upcoming football season.

For more information contact Andrew Wingard in the YSU Athletics Ticket Office at (330) 941-7466 or via email at

For each referral, current season-ticket holders will receive:

    1 season ticket = YSU game day hat
    2 season tickets = YSU Athletics Under Armour Polo
    4 season tickets = Under Armour Gameday polo and autographed football
    6 season tickets = 2018 M-63 Tailgate spot
    8 season tickets = Four complimentary WVU tickets and YSU cage jacket
    10 season tickets = Meal with the YSU Football Team

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