Youngstown State football coach Eric Wolford was willing to give Will Mahone a second chance, but it came with a warning.
“Everyone knows you don’t get a third chances with me,” he said.
Mahone, an Austintown Fitch High graduate who spent two years with Notre Dame’s football program, joined the Penguins as a walk-on outside linebacker Monday. He will not be eligible to play this season, Wolford said.
Mahone comes with some baggage, having spent 10 days in jail last month after pleading guilty to four misdemeanors following a June 14 incident in Austintown.
Police in Austintown say that when they responded to reports of a fight, they found Mahone punching and head butting vehicles and trying to fight several people. Officers said the 20-year-old Mahone appeared highly intoxicated and didn’t comply with orders to get on the ground. They said he yelled obscenities, threatened to kill the officers and struck one officer with his head.
Mahone was originally charged with felony charges of assault on a police officer, intimidation of a public servant and vandalism before the charges were reduced.
Notre Dame suspended him indefinitely on June 16. Originally recruited at running back, Mahone appeared in just two games with the Irish, both last fall as a slot receiver.
“I investigated the whole situation in a lot of different ways,” Wolford said Tuesday. “He knows he’s got some work to do, some things he’s got to get straightened away but he’s excited to be part of the team.
“It’s a situation where he can use this year to train and get acclimated to the defensive side of the ball. We’re going to bring him into the program and put our arms around him and give a local guy a chance.”
Mahone (5-11, 215), who was not available for an interview, was a standout running back and linebacker for the Falcons, earning second team All-Ohio honors in 2011 as a linebacker.
“You see all over the country a lot of programs and people in general give people second chances,” Wolford said. “Why shouldn’t we give him a second chance?
“We have a high standard for how you conduct yourself as a member of the program. Kids always need help and it’s our job to keep a support system around people, no matter who it is, so they have a chance for success.”