By JOe Scalzo
YSU sophomore tackle Andrew Radakovich is from Steubenville, which means he lines up every day against a sophomore linebacker named Taylor Hill, a Mooney High graduate who ended Big Red’s season (and Radakovich’s career) in the playoffs two years ago.
“He tries to talk sometimes but I don’t really listen to him because I had a good game but we didn’t happen to win against him,” Radakovich said.
After standout careers on two of the state’s best programs, both players headed to Big Ten schools, then quickly headed back. Hill was only at Michigan for a few weeks before leaving the team, while Radakovich redshirted at Penn State in 2008 before transferring to YSU.
Coincidentally, the Nittany Lions are YSU’s first opponent this fall. Radakovich still has good friends at Penn State and made sure to get his trash talk in early at a recent campus visit.
“I tell them we’re going to upset them and ruin their whole season,” he said. “[We’ll] replay that Michigan-Appalachian State game [from 2007].”
Former YSU coach Jim Tressel built his program on local recruits and Division I transfers, a tradition continued under Jon Heacock and, now, Eric Wolford.
Hill (6-2, 210) started all 11 games at outside linebacker last fall, earning all-newcomer honors in the Missouri Valley Football Conference after leading YSU with 65 tackles.
“It is a lot different [this spring] because everybody’s giving their best, trying to prove what they can do so it’s a lot more competitive and lot more guys just flying around,” Hill said.
“He’s busting his tail,” Wolford said of Hill. “We’ve just got to continue to get him in a situation where he can have success and he can grab guys by the back of the neck and bring them with him.”
Radakovich (6-5, 300), who also made the all-newcomer team, started eight games at left tackle last fall. He knows the line is under the spotlight because of Wolford’s offensive line background.
“Them boys will never be as good as I want ’em,” Wolford said. “Trust me.”
“He’s staring at us 24-7,” Radakovich added. “So we either come together or break.
“I think we’re coming together right now.”