In less than two weeks the Youngstown State football team will begin fall practice in preparation for the 2005 season.
This will be an interesting campaign for the Penguins since coach Jon Heacock is entering the fifth and final year of his contract.
Heacock has compiled a 24-21 record over the first four years, but the Penguins' record has dropped in each season, from 8-3 in 2001 and 7-4 in 2002 to losing seasons of 5-7 and 4-7 the last two years.
A winning record will probably be required if Heacock is going to get a contract extension.
Additions, subtractionsfrom coaching staff
Since the end of the last season the Penguins have lost three members of the coaching staff, including a graduate assistant.
Veteran assistant John Klacik left to take the head coaching job at Lock Haven University, then Brian White, the assistant tight ends coach, left recently to join Klacik.
Heacock replaced Klacik with Chris Bache of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Bache joined the Penguins in the spring and worked the 2005 spring practice session.
Just recently Heacock has added a replacement for White. He's Casey Vogt of Gannon College.
If that name sounds familiar it's because Vogt's brother, Chad, played two seasons for the Penguins as a quarterback before transferring to Slippery Rock. He later was killed in an accident.
Casey Vogt served as offensive line coach at Gannon and most recently was elevated to offensive coordinator.
The Penguins are also looking for a replacement for graduate assistant coach Rick Perez, who left the team to be defensive backfield coach at Lenoir-Rhyne.
Summer additionsto Penguins' roster
Over the summer the Penguins made a couple of additions to their roster.
Junior wide receiver Al Monzo-Banks will be joining the team. The 6-foot, 195-pounder has played the last two seasons at junior colleges, including last season at Garden City JC where he led the team in all-purpose yards and receiving, and also returned kicks.
Monzo-Banks is 24 years old and was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels out of high school. He spent two years with the Angels and two more with the Baltimore Orioles before heading to college.
He was signed as a pitcher, but was moved to the outfield because of his speed.
Also joining the Penguins this fall will be 6-4, 300-pound junior college tackle David Craiovan of San Leandro, Calif.
Craiovan played two seasons at Chabot Junior College and is expected to add instant help to the Penguins offensive line which has suffered some injuries.
Junior offensive guard Josh Tanner, who started eight of the 11 games a year ago, may be lost to the Penguins for most of or all of the season.
He suffered a shoulder injury in the Indiana State game last season and has not responded to treatment.
Junior tackle Pat Walker has also been hampered by injuries, so the addition of Craiovan could be a blessing to the offensive line.
On the other hand, defensive line recruit Jim Phelan, a junior college transfer, may be late in arriving to fall camp because of a delay in his transcripts from Joliet Junior College.
NCAA ruleaffects roster
Another player who will not be available to the Penguins this fall is senior wide receiver Matt Rycraft. Rycraft sat out his freshman season because of not meeting the NCAA academic requirements. He needed to graduate with his freshman class before fall in order to get back that lost year, but has not met the requirements and will not be able to play.
The NCAA has recently changed that rule for players who are trying to earn back their lost year of eligibility. It previously required the player to make up 100 percent of his academics and graduate with his class, but now only requires 85 percent to become eligible.
This will immediately help YSU senior defensive back Herb Jones, who has met those requirements and will get another season.
It may also be a big help to two other YSU seniors who lost their freshman seasons -- senior tailback Josh Cayson and senior defensive tackle Jamal Lee -- who have a good shot at regaining that year of eligibility and playing again next season.
The Penguins report for fall practice on Aug. 5 and the first practice is set for Aug. 6.
Photo day is set for Aug. 10 at 4 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.
The Penguins will open the season against Slippery Rock Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
XPete Mollica covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write to him at email@example.com