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Radakovich considers football



Published: Sat, February 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



He played tight end in high school.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Brian Radakovich is a big body in the middle for the Youngstown State men's basketball team.

The 6-foot-7-inch senior center is a banger, battling inside every night with the big boys. He's one of the Penguins' leading scorers and rebounders, using a blend of brawn and finesse to get the job done against Horizon League opponents.

But in a month, when he pulls off his YSU uniform for the final time, he may trade his short pants and hightops for shoulder pads and a helmet.

Radakovich said earlier this month that he hopes to play football for Youngstown State next fall.

"I wanted to play football out of high school, but I just decided that coming here, playing basketball, was the best thing for me then," Radakovich said.

"But I've always loved playing football and I've missed it ever since high school. I don't graduate next December or May, so I figure this may be my opportunity.

"I've talked to [football coaches] a little bit here and there about it and they didn't seem to have a problem with it."

Gates showed it can be done

Radakovich said there isn't a direct link between the success of San Diego tight end Antonio Gates and his decision, but he said it does show it can be done.

Gates played basketball while at Kent State and didn't play football at all in college. Two years later, Gates is playing in the Pro Bowl and considered one of the best young receivers in the game. After being signed as a free agent by the Chargers following an Elite 8 NCAA appearance, Gates made the transition look easy.

"I actually played basketball against [Gates] a couple of years ago," Radakovich said.

"He's had a great year and is just a phenomenal athlete. I could only dream of something like that, but I love football and just getting a chance to play again would be enough for me."

Radakovich was a first-team All-Ohio selection in basketball coming out of Steubenville, and was named first-team Eastern District, first-team District V and first-team All-OVAC.

But in football he was the starting tight end for two years, with his father Robert serving as the team's offensive coordinator.

"I feel like was better in football than I was in basketball," Radakovich said.

"But at that time I wasn't big enough -- I was only about 195 [pounds] coming out of high school. So I didn't feel I could play at the Division I level at that size.

"Right now I'm 238 and that's this far into the basketball season. I feel like I'm much more suited now for it than I was back then."

Difference in contact

Radakovich isn't kidding himself into thinking that he can show up and become a standout.

He knows the difference between basketball contact in the paint and the kind of collisions he will face on the football field are worlds apart.

"Getting hit the way you do in football will take some time to get used to," Radakovich said.

"There's nothing like that. You get bumped around in basketball. You get hit in football. I'm sure I'll be sore for awhile when it starts."

YSU football coach Jon Heacock declined to talk about the possibility of Radakovich joining his squad until after the basketball season is over, opting to allow Brian to concentrate on basketball right now.

But the idea of having a 6-foot-7-inch, 245-pound target for quarterback Tom Zetts has to be attractive.

Tight end Mike Roberts will graduate, leaving a void at the position.

"It will be hard to have just a month off and then try to get ready to take the hits and stuff in football -- that will be tough," Radakovich said.

"And the fact that I haven't played in five years will be tough.

"But I'm pretty sure right now I'm going to do it," Radakovich said.

"It's something that I really want to do. Unless I were to get injured the last two weeks of the season, I'll be out there in the spring and be back in the summer to get ready."




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