Zach Larson and Eric Franklin made their decisions within minutes of each other.
By JOE SCALZO
Vindicator sports staff
YOUNGSTOWN — At 6:45 p.m. on Monday, Mooney senior Zach Larson called the YSU football coaches to give them his verbal commitment.
Minutes later, he got a text from his teammate, senior lineman Eric Franklin.
“He said, ‘You’ve got to call me. I just verballed,’ ” said Larson. “We weren’t going to commit at the same time. That’s just how it happened.”
The two Cardinals joined WR/DB Donald D’Alesio to give the Penguins three Mooney recruits.
The Cardinals, who went 15-0 last fall and won the Division III state title, have six Div. I recruits overall. Running back Braylon Heard (Nebraska), safety Ray Vinopal (Michigan) and quarterback Alex Zordich (Buffalo) are the others.
Larson (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) was a first team All-Ohio guard this fall after earning first team all-district in 2008. He also received the Mack Truck Bulldog Award, given to the area’s top lineman.
He chose YSU over Kent State after visiting the Golden Flashes’ campus this weekend.
“I just think I felt more comfortable with the coaching staff at YSU,” Larson said. “YSU’s going to go places. They’ve got nowhere to go but up.
“I think Coach [Eric] Wolford is going to get them back up there with all the local guys he’s bringing in. People in Youngstown know how to play football.”
Mooney’s defensive coordinator, Ron Stoops, joined Wolford’s staff in December, but Larson said it didn’t affect his decision either way. Stoops is the Penguins’ director of high school relations and will also coach the secondary, so their paths aren’t likely to cross that often.
“If they want me to play there [in the secondary], sure, I’ll try it out,” joked Larson, who was known as the most quotable member of Mooney’s championship team. “If they need a tailback, I’ll try that too.
“Anything they need.”
Larson plans to major in a business field, either finance, international business or marketing/medical sales. But he hasn’t ruled out coaching, either, he said.
Franklin (6-7, 310) was a first team all-district and special mention All-Ohio tackle who has the size and ability to play almost anywhere. He had offers from a host of Big Ten and Mid-American Conference schools but is still trying to achieve a qualifying test score.
Two other area players, Ursuline running back Allen Jones and Newton Falls lineman Stephen Page, have also committed to the Penguins. Wolford has aggressively recruited the area since taking over for Jon Heacock in December.
“I think YSU means a lot more to us than, say, a guy who’s from out of town who doesn’t know what the program was and how much Youngstown means to all of us growing up here,” Larson said.