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SIGNING DAY Penguins focus on defensive openings



Published: Sat, February 8, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



YSU has three area players are among its 17 recruits.

By PETE MOLLICA

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- Graduation took a toll on the Youngstown State University defensive unit this year, which is why head coach Jon Heacock and his staff have 15 defensive players on this year's recruiting list.

The Penguins expect to sign 17 players today, the first day players are officially allowed to sign national letters-of-intent.

While defense was the primary concern of the Penguins staff, it was an offensive player who has been creating most of the stir.

Boardman High's quarterback Tom Zetts was one of the Penguins' early verbal commitments, and Heacock is so happy to have the local player on board.

Example

"Tom Zetts is not only a fine football player, but he is a tremendous example for youngsters both on and off the field," Heacock said. "He's a leader and an outstanding student.

"I watched him play in a basketball game recently, and when the game was over you could just see the stream of youngsters flowing down on the court around him. That's the type of youngsters we need for our program."

Zetts comes from the same Boardman mold that produced YSU quarterback Jeff Ryan, a four-year starter for the Penguins. Zetts threw for 1,468 yards and 13 touchdowns his senior season, which was cut short by a broken collarbone.

An outstanding baseball player as well, Zetts is hoping to participate with the Penguin baseball team in the spring season.

Dewberry, Massucci set

Canfield High's tailback and defensive back Tim Dewberry and Warren Harding High's defensive back Rob Massucci will also sign.

"We feel that we got three of the best area players that were available to us," Heacock said.

The Penguins also signed four junior college players, two of them already enrolled at YSU and set to play in spring practice.

They are defensive end Matt Porter, a 6-3, 255-pound performer from American River College in California; and punter-kicker Nick Terracina (5-9, 165) from Jones College in Mississippi.

The other two transfers are Coby Hayslett (6-1, 295), a defensive tackle from Pasadena City College; and Justin Martin (6-3, 225), a linebacker from DuPage College.

More from Florida

The Penguins continued to recruit well from Florida, signing four players.

They are defensive ends Peter Berthold (6-1, 210) of Cooper City, Fla., and Blake Halverson (6-2, 230) Palm Harbor, Fla., and defensive backs Durell Preston (5-10, 165) from St. Augustine, Fla., and Curtis Shelton (5-10, 180) from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.

The only other offensive player on the YSU recruiting list is Rory Berry, a 6-2, 170-pound wide receiver from Beaver Falls High School.

"We are extremely excited about this year's recruiting class," Heacock said. "We feel that we have filled our needs, especially on defense, where we were hit the hardest by graduation.

Mollica@vindy.com




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