Penguins bigger, stronger
A championship football season won't begin Sept. 2 when Youngstown State will play its first game against Slippery Rock.
A championship season, if it is to be one, began last January in the weight room and inside the gym.
"It was last January when Coach Heacock came to me and said our kids need to get bigger, stronger and quicker for us to compete against our schedule," said Todd Burkey, the Penguins strength and conditioning coach.
"So that's just what we went about doing," Burkey said.
This summer the Penguins had what Burkey feels was the best summer of conditioning in the three years he's been with the team.
"We had an average of 65 players working out almost every day, with a high of 68. Both are records for us," Burkey said.
The Penguins set 157 personal records in the weight room and in conditioning.
"We had 30 players go over 1,000 pounds in the three required lifts -- bench press, squat and clean -- which is the most we've ever had," he added.
Individually senior tight end Nick Roberts had one of the best summers as he bench pressed 470 pounds to break the team position record set by Jerry Johnson and came within 15 pounds of breaking Pat Danko's all-time team bench press mark.
Sophomore transfer tailback Monquantae Gibson, who joined the team last spring from the University of Kentucky, broke the team's all-time record in the vertical leap with a jump of 401/2 inches, while sophomore cornerback Jason Perry from Warrensville Heights, set a defensive back record in the vertical leap with a jump of 40 inches.
"We had more incoming guys this year then ever before, which included both new freshmen and transfer," said Burkey.
"Everybody's numbers are up," he added. "We came out of summer camp as a team despite having a lot of new players.
Line averages 300 pounds
"Everyone on our offensive line is now at or over 300 pounds and all increased their lift weights," he added.
Burkey singled out players like redshirt freshman quarterback Tom Zetts, offensive guard Joe DeBee and redshirt freshman defensive back Bob Perez, who never missed a day during the summer workouts.
"We had a lot of guys who really had great summers this year, including Kyle Smith, Marty Hutchinson, Ryan Jewell, Damian Wright and Brandon Brown," Burkey added.
But there was a downside to the summer workouts as senior linebacker Yancey Marcum injured himself and could be out for some time with the injury.
"The thing is that Yancey wasn't doing anything that he hadn't done before," Burkey said.
"He had just lifted his career best of 435 pounds and was trying to do 455 pounds, something that he had done before. He got it up and as he was bringing it down his pectoral muscle just popped," he said.
"I was a basket case for days after that happened," Burkey said. "It was a freak accident, but I feel so bad for Yancey."
Burkey, a native of Greenford, is a 1994 graduate of YSU and got his master's degree from Ashland University. He came to the Penguins from the Cleveland Clinic where he served as athletic trainer.
New scoreboard coming
If you've driven past Stambaugh Stadium you probably noticed that the new scoreboard has not yet been installed. In fact, the old one hasn't even been taken down.
Athletic director Ron Strollo said not to worry, it will be done.
"We will have everything but the new video board done for the season opener and the video board should be operating by the third home game," Strollo said.
"I was told by the company that it takes just one day to take the old board down and one day to put the new one up," he said.
The newest addition to the YSU football family is freshman redshirt linebacker James Terry from Stafford, Va., who just joined the team last week.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder who transferred from the University of Virginia, opened a few eyes on his first day in camp.
In one of the conditioning drills, where the players run from sideline to sideline and back, Terry, who has great speed, was clocked in 13 seconds, one of only three players to get that time.
Terry, who played one year at Fork Union Military School before signing with Virginia, did not play last season with the Cavaliers.
He reminds a lot of people in camp of a young Tim Johnson.
XPete Mollica covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write to him at email@example.com.