YSU’s Wolford excited by third class
By Joe Scalzo
Over the past two months, Youngstown State coach Eric Wolford said he has spent more time out of Youngstown recruiting than he spent at home.
SDLqA typical day is 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., if you’re lucky enough to come home,” he said.
The result? A 23-player recruiting class that Wolford believes will position the Penguins for a run at this year’s national championship.
“It’s really overwhelming to sit and look at [the film]. I’m like, ‘Wow, we really nailed it,’” Wolford said. “This recruiting class really gives us a chance to strike at a national championship.
“That’s what the standard is here.”
The class featured players from six states — Pennsylvania and Florida each had seven players, while Ohio was next with five — and is heavy on offensive and defensive linemen (five each). YSU graduated three defensive linemen and will have four senior starters on the offensive line this fall.
“I’m somewhat partial to this group just because there are so many linemen,” said Wolford, a former offensive lineman at Ursuline and Kansas State. “To me, they’re unsung heroes.”
The class also had five defensive backs, shoring up a weakness from last fall both in the defensive backfield and on special teams. The three wide receivers will also play on special teams, Wolford said.
“I told Coach Coleman, I’m not taking any more receivers that can’t play special teams,” Wolford said, referring to receivers coach Andre Coleman. “And I’m not talking about punt and kick return.”
Four players have already enrolled for the spring semester, including three junior college transfers. Overall, there are five junior college players and Wolford expects them to compete for playing time immediately.
Other highlights from the 75-minute press conference:
Rick Kravitz’s decision to leave was mutual.
Kravitz, YSU’s defensive coordinator the past two seasons, oversaw a unit that played well at times last fall but lagged far behind the offense both years. Kravitz will pursue a position in his home state of Florida, Wolford said.
“Coach Kravitz, I appreciated everything he’s done around here,” Wolford said. “We both kind of came to an agreement during the recruiting process that we needed to go in a different direction.”
Wolford will hire an outsider to replace Kravitz.
Former UCLA defensive coordinator Joe Tresey is among the candidates, according to multiple Web reports. Wolford said has not been able to do more than phone interviews to this point.
“I felt like I wanted a guy with more experience at defensive coordinator,” Wolford said, when asked why he would not look to promote from within. “I’ve been overwhelmed at ... the inquiries about the job. I think a lot of people know it’s the right time to come to Youngstown.”
Wolford said any new coaches won’t be hired until March 1. He confirmed that former South Florida defensive quality control coach Glenn Davis will coach defensive backs.
Linebacker Davion Rogers has left the program.
Rogers, a Warren Harding High graduate, started 10 of 11 games as a freshman last fall, as the Sam linebacker.
“We kind of decided to go in different directions before Christmas break,” said Wolford.
No other returning starters have left the program, but a source said guard Santiago Mason (Champion) will also not return.
“I’m sure there will be more guys in the spring who just decide football is not for them,” Wolford.