Penguin recruits impress coaches in first workout
Head coach Jon Heacock is pleased with the overall athletic ability of the group.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State head football coach Jon Heacock got his first good look at his latest recruiting class Monday as the newcomers were welcomed to the Penguin family with drills at Stambaugh Stadium.
There were 23 new faces at Monday's opening session, which began at 8:30 a.m. and lasted two hours. The freshmen and transfers practiced again in the afternoon.
That group is set for two more sessions today before the rest of the 2002 team reports to camp on Wednesday afternoon.
Heacock thought the first day went well.
"I think they were all a little nervous out there today," Heacock said. "But this seems like a good group with a lot of character. Everything is just new to them right now."
Heacock said that he is impressed with the athletic ability of the young group.
"These two days are important for them," he said. "It's a time where they get to know one another. And it's a time to get their fundamentals down."
Heacock said everyone scheduled to be in camp was present.
Only two freshmen won't be participating in drills this year. Josh Cayson of Warren JFK and Jamal Lee of Cleveland Heights, both because of academics.
Cayson was a partial qualifier and will be able to practice with the team once school begins, but will not be eligible to play. Lee, a 6-3, 301-pound lineman, won't be able to practice or play this year.
Three transfers report
This year's newcomer group also includes three transfer players, led by 6-2, 192-pound junior quarterback Luis Gonzalez. He is a Miami, Fla., native, but spent the last three seasons at the University of Cincinnati. He'll have two more years at YSU.
Another transfer is junior defensive line prospect Keland Logan, a former Ursuline standout, who transferred from Ohio University, while former Cardinal Mooney standout Ken Kraft is another transfer student coming from the University of Akron.
Another new face in camp is that of sophomore Matt Rycraft of West Branch. Rycraft, a quarterback, has been in school at YSU for a year, but was not eligible to play or practice last season.
The 6-0, 181-pounder is currently listed as the No. 4 quarterback on the depth chart, but has great athletic ability and could be used elsewhere this season if the QB spot doesn't work out.
He is also one of the fastest players on the squad and is listed as the No. 2 kickoff returner behind senior Jerald Burley.
Heacock said that he's taking a good look at these players to see if there is some immediate help in the group.
"Right now every position is open and the kids who work the hardest and show the most are the ones who are going to be playing this year," Heacock said.
Who's in camp
The freshmen players who are in camp include area standouts Brandon Brown (Ursuline), Marty Hutchinson (Newton Falls), Max King (Champion) and Ryan Jewell (Warren Harding).
The others include Mike Andrews (Oldsmar, Fla.), Joe Bishop (Canton), Cody Clark (Easthampton, N.J.), Erik Claxon (Brunswick), Joe Debee (Alliance), Lee Everette, Demetrius Ison (Jackson Center, Pa.), Tyler Morton (Palm Harbor, Fla.), Luke Patrino (Dover), Jason Perry (Warrensville Heights), T.J. Peterson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Justin Reams (Miami, Fla.), Kyle Smith (Hamburg, N.Y.) and Patrick Walker of Bedford.
The entire team will conduct fitness tests on Thursday afternoon and then will hold its first complete team workouts Friday at 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The Penguins will hold their first full contact drills on Aug. 12, beginning with the annual "Hoot 'N Holler" drill at 8:30 a.m. The first jersey scrimmage is set for Aug. 15 at 6 p.m.