YSU notebook More from Stambaugh Stadium

Back at backup: After spending the first seven practices at safety, sophomore Dante Nania moved back to QB on Thursday and was Kurt Hess’ primary backup in Saturday’s scrimmage, completing 4 of 6 passes for 28 yards. “Dante’s done well,” YSU coach Eric Wolford said. “It was a good move putting him back at quarterback. He’s got a stronger arm. I think a lot of times confidence goes along with that. Coach [Shane] Montgomery and I were talking just yesterday that it just seemed like he’s a year older and more mature. He doesn’t get rattled as easy. He went right back over [to offense] and still has a good grasp of the offense.” Third-stringer Nick Wargo, a redshirt freshman, was 3 of 4 for 31 yards and a TD. Hess completed 4 of 10 for 56 yards and a TD. Sophomore WR Marcel Caver continued his strong spring with three catches for 32 yards and a TD and Michael Wheary had four catches for 37 yards and a nice TD catch at the end of practice.

Smith stepping up: Redshirt freshman Jameel Smith has emerged as the starting free safety, with junior Donald D’Alesio moving to strong safety. “He’s a smart kid and he’s picking up the defense really well,” D’Alesio said. “I’m helping out a little bit when he doesn’t know but he’s learning everything and he’s a good athlete. Hopefully he’ll continue to pick it up and get better.”

Picking it up: Sophomore linebacker Dubem Nwadiogbu had two interceptions, D’Alesio had one and Josh Garner returned an interception for a touchdown during the scrimmage. The Penguins would have had five picks, but linebacker Ali Cheaib dropped a high floater that bounced off TE Nate Adam’s hands. “Of course he had an excuse,” Wolford said. “He said, ‘I thought I was gonna run into Jameel Smith.’” When D’Alesio was asked about the drop, he smiled and said, “Ah, that kid. I’ll get on him later in the locker room.”

Joe Scalzo

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