The senior wide receiver will start Saturday at Western Kentucky.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Jerald Burley is back.
He might not be 100 percent healthy, but he's ready to help the Youngstown State football team.
The 5-10, 170 pound senior wide receiver/kick returner missed all of the Penguins' season opener against Clarion but played some in the second contest, a 28-13 loss to McNeese State.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native will be back in the starting lineup this week when the Penguins make their first road trip of the season to Bowling Green, Ky., to take on Western Kentucky in the Penguins' Gateway Conference opener at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
That contest will be televised live by WFMJ-TV, Channel 21.
Burley injured his ankle before the start of fall practice. The injury kept him out contact work throughout the preseason and the first game.
"It was just a freak accident, but it certainly has caused me a lot of problems," Burley said. "It was so hard to be standing on the sidelines during all the action during camp and then the season opener."
Burley led the Penguins in receiving with 21 catches for 314 yards and three touchdowns as a junior.
He also earned first-team All-Gateway Conference honors and was honorable mention All-American as a kick return specialist.
His 289 yards of punt return yardage ranked second on the YSU all-time list and he returned 12 kickoffs for an average of 25.5 yards. He was ranked seventh in the nation in punt returns and 21st in kickoff returns and was one of only two players in the country to finish in the top 25 in both categories.
Last week, Burley returned two kickoffs for 63 yards -- including one for 42 yards. He also caught two passes for 36 yards.
"While I was on the sidelines I tried to help the other receivers as much as I could," he said. "You get a whole different perspective from the sidelines."
Sophomore wide receiver Philip Larmon will join Burley in the starting lineup. They were the two top receivers from last year's team.
The big question this week is whether the quarterbacks will be able to get them the football, something that hasn't been done in the first two games.
Green QB leader
Senior Justin Green appears to be the front runner to start at quarterback against the Hilltoppers, while freshman red-shirt Aaron Marshall, who has been filling in for Burley at wide receiver since the first week of camp, will be Green's backup.
"You would like to have some continuity back there at quarterback, but we know that whoever is back there is going to do everything in his power to make our offense work," Burley added.
"We know that P.J. [Mays, starting tailback] can't do everything by himself," Burley said. "We've struggled offensively in the first two games and nobody has really seen what we are capable of yet.
"Hopefully things will come together this week."