By Joe Scalzo
Graduation will leave some huge holes along Youngstown State’s defensive line.
Eric Wolford wasted little time filling them.
On Wednesday, the Penguins signed three junior college defensive linemen along with a junior college kicker that will fill the void left by departing senior David Brown. He also added freshman defensive end Derek Rivers out of Fork Union Military Academy, a prep school.
Defensive tackle Octavius Brown (Georgia Military Academy), defensive end Vince Coleman (Orange Coast College), defensive end Nate Cox (Santa Ana College) and kicker Joey Cejudo (Mt. San Antonio College). Those four will be juniors next fall.
All five players will join the team for the spring semester.
The 26-year-old Cox was a first team all-conference player last fall with 51 tackles, including 6.5 sacks. Before heading to junior college, he was a sergeant in the Marine Corps, serving five months in Afghanistan.
Coleman was a second team all-conference player last season with 61 tackles, including 8.5 sacks. Brown, a two-year starter at GMA, had 36 total tackles last fall. Cejudo was a punter and a kicker last fall, making 21 of 22 PATs with three field goals. He made a 46-yarder in high school. He was a high school teammate of long-snapper Nathan Gibbs in California.
YSU’s top four defensive linemen were seniors last season: DTs Aronde Stanton (11 starts) and Nick DeKraker (eight starts) and defensive ends Josh Fenderson (10 starts) and Luis Quinones (six starts). The only returning defensive lineman who started more than a handful of games is senior-to-be Kyle Sirl (six starts).
Inside linebackers coach Frank Buffano, a Cardinal Mooney High graduate, is headed to Kentucky to be new head coach Mark Stoops’ director of football operations.
Buffano was a graduate assistant under then-defensive coordinator Mark Stoops at Arizona. Mark’s older brother, Mike, was the Wildcats’ head coach at the time. Both Stoops also graduated from Mooney.
Buffano coached the secondary in his first season under Eric Wolford at YSU and has coached the team’s inside linebackers the past two years.
One internal candidate to be promoted is former Cleveland Browns safety Nick Sorensen, who volunteered on YSU’s staff last fall as a defensive quality control coach.