Author Topic: Trib: Newton Falls product bulking up for YSU  (Read 2410 times)

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Trib: Newton Falls product bulking up for YSU
« on: March 28, 2011, 09:35:42 AM »
By MIKE McLAIN Tribune Chronicle

YOUNGSTOWN - The problem Stephen Page has had to deal with wouldn't seem like a big deal to most people.

In fact, it might seem like a pleasant problem.

Page, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman for the Youngstown State University Penguins, needed to gain weight if he had plans to become a starter. That meant a lot of eating to increase his weight from 230 pounds to 280.

"Just eating everything I see," Page said after the Penguins concluded a spring practice Friday evening.

Page, a Newton?Falls graduate, was recruited to play on the defensive line, but he was switched to the offensive line about one week into training camp last year. He is now working at right guard with the Penguins' second team.

Page isn't discounting his chances to earn a starting job.

Three linemen graduated from last season's team, but two spots are expected to be filled by junior college transfers Mark Pratt at center and Lamar Mady at right tackle.

"If I can get my weight up, I think I have a possibility of at least getting some playing time," said Page, who wants to weigh 295 by the start of the season. "I've put on a lot of muscle. It's not just all fat. Eating the right way and lifting right and training. It all comes into play."

As a former offensive lineman, Wolford is known for demanding a lot from the big guys up front. While the Penguins need more upgrades on the defensive side of the ball, Wolford isn't about to forget about getting improvement from the offensive line.

"I'm on those guys all the time," Wolford said. "If we get our offensive line squared away around here, I think we have a chance to be special because we all know what we have behind them."

Page was able to practice last season as a redshirt, which gave him an opportunity to see the intensity Wolford puts into his work with the offensive line.

"He's basically a second offensive line coach," Page said. "He'll tell us what we're doing wrong. He knows his stuff."

Sitting out one season is never easy for a redshirt player. They go through high school being quality starter to standing on the sideline in street clothes the next year.

"It was tough because in high school there wasn't a single year when I didn't play," Page said. "It was rough knowing that you were just there to practice. I was still there supporting my team."

Wolford probably has a good idea how the line competition will develop. Andrew Radakovich seems set at left tackle. Pratt and Mady appear to be in good situations. Andy Colegrove could start at left guard after moving inside from tight end, and Chris Elkins has a shot to start at right guard.

Page needs to continue to get bigger and perform well in training camp to get the playing time he wants.

"Page has done a great job of putting weight on," Wolford said. "He's running in there with the second team. He's been a little inconsistent. Sometimes he looks good, and sometimes he locks up a little bit. Normally with offensive linemen it's a two-year process. This is his first spring. We have some time to keep developing him."

That's why Page will continue in his attempt to add more weight.

"The biggest thing is size," Page said. "The stronger you are, the better you are. Technique comes into a lot of it. That's why we're out here right now preparing for next season. Hopefully I can make my way into the starting lineup by the fall."

mmclain@tribtoday.com