Ursuline’s Dale Peterman finds a home
patrolling in Youngstown State’s secondary
By Joe Scalzo
Youngstown State cornerback Dale Peterman didn’t give up a deep ball during Saturday’s practice.
Didn’t matter. One of his teammates did. And for cornerbacks coach Glenn Davis, that’s enough.
So as a group of reporters lined up to talk to Peterman after a three-hour practice, Peterman lined up with his fellow corners to run sideline-to-sideline gassers.
“ESPN can wait,” Davis said.
Peterman didn’t complain, joking that he’s just happy he doesn’t have to run after dropping interceptions.
“I’d probably be out there running all day,” Peterman.
After sitting out the 2011 season to get his grades in order, Peterman quickly stepped into YSU’s starting lineup last August and never left, starting all 11 games at strong side cornerback. He had 50 tackles — fourth-best on the team — with seven pass break-ups and a forced fumble.
What he didn’t have was an interception.
“I definitely need to get both hands on the ball this season,” said Peterman, an Ursuline High graduate. “Last year, having zero picks was definitely disappointing. I had a few chances.”
He had another chance on Saturday. He dropped it.
“Man, I don’t know what’s going on,” he said, smiling. “I need to get on the JUGS machine.”
Peterman’s raw talent has never been an issue — he signed with Syracuse as a senior — but it’s taken two stops at junior colleges (Georgia Military College and City College of San Francisco) along with some growing pains at YSU for him to start putting everything together.
“Dale is coming along,” YSU coach Eric Wolford said. “I felt like Dale did some good things last year. I think he was still a little bit rusty. He’s starting to better understand what we’re asking him to do.
“There’s a lot of little things that go along with playing corner.”
That includes recognizing formations, studying routes and tendencies, understanding his assignment and understanding his teammates’ assignments.
“You’ve got to have more than raw talent,” said Peterman, who had to watch on the sidelines last spring because he wasn’t yet academically eligible. “You’ve got to know what the guy in front of you is doing and what the guy next to me is doing because it all matters.”
Wolford was particularly impressed with Peterman on one play Saturday. The Penguins brought a receiver in motion across a formation, faked a run play and threw a slant behind the motion.
“He obviously jumped all over that and had a chance to make a pick down there,” Wolford said. “He had his hands on a bunch of footballs last year. We’ve got to find a way to catch those and turn it into six [points] the other way.”
YSU returns three of its four defensive backs from last year: Peterman, cornerback Julius Childs (who was third on the team in tackles with 51 and had one interception) and free safety Donald D’Alesio.
The Penguins still need to find a strong safety — redshirt freshman Jameel Smith seems to have the early edge — but that experience should provide a boost, Peterman said.
“Last year, it was just our learning curve,” Peterman said. “Coach [Joe] Tresey’s defense, we just all had to get adjusted to it.
“I think this year we’re getting more comfortable with the system [and] with each other. There’s a lot more camaraderie. I think it’s going to be good this year.”