Penguins put on pads ready to 'hoot-holler'
The starting offensive line is made up of all underclassmen.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- The YSU football team put on full pads for the first time Wednesday morning, then went out and cracked them in what was scheduled as a non-contact session.
Coach Jon Heacock liked a lot of what he saw during the session, but expected to see more today when the Penguins officially began contact drills with the "hoot 'n holler" drill at Stambaugh Stadium.
"It was a good first day in pads. We did some things well and others not so well, but everything just stepped up in pace and I thought overall it was pretty good," Heacock said.
The Penguins held a semi-contact scrimmage at the end of the two-hour workout and the offense again shined brightly behind freshman redshirt quarterback Tom Zetts.
Zetts who won the starting job in the spring, wasted little time, connecting with former quarterback-turned wide receiver, senior Matt Rycraft, for a 35-yard touchdown pass on the second play.
The running game was featured by sophomore transfer Monquantae Gibson of Louisville, Ky., who had several nice runs, while junior Josh Cayson of Warren JFK and Regis Edgerson, a 6-foot-1, 225 pound sophomore transfer from South Carolina, also ran well.
Line play improves
The key to the offensive success still lies with the play of the offensive line. Injury riddled a year ago, the group made a big impression in the spring and has continued to impress the coaches in camp.
The starting group is made up of all underclassmen, including returning starters John Bartos III of Ursuline, a junior, at one tackle and sophomore Pat Walker of Bedford at the other. The guards are junior Tony Limongi of Niles and sophomore Joe DeBee of Alliance. The center is sophomore Ryan Jewell of Warren. Senior Norris Kennedy, a starter last year, is currently nursing a back injury.
Also expected to see action are sophomore tackle Erik Claxon and sophomore guard John Foster. Junior transfer Ricky Valenzuela is another hopeful, although he hasn't begun workouts with the team while completing a summer school class.
Senior Coby Hayslett decided not to return to school. He was moved to center during spring practice because of injuries and was impressive, but if he transfers to another school, it will be his fourth one.
Injuries pop up
Besides senior linebacker Yancey Marcum and junior tight end Shawn Carlson, two others returnees have been missing from workouts because of injuries.
Redshirt freshman Seth Job of Beaver Falls was involved in a car accident this summer, while junior defensive end Ron John-Finn has been unable to practice.
The Penguins have a single practice session scheduled Friday at 8:20 a.m.