YSU football team has full-contact Friday


By Charles Grove

cgrove@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

For the first time since Jan. 7, the Youngstown State football team finally got thrown into a game-like situation as the Penguins scrimmaged Friday at the WATTS.

“It feels good,” running back Joe Alessi said after taking shots from the defense. “I always like when we start hitting. It’s nice to put the pads on and go bang around a little bit.”

Both the first and second strings of the offense and defense had mixed success against each other. Individually, though, Alessi — a sophomore from South Range — got lots of time with the first-team offense and broke off a few impressive runs.

“[Joe’s] hamstring has been bothering him a little bit this spring but I thought he made a couple good cuts out there,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said.

“I think our stable of running backs is pretty good. Obviously it starts with Tevin [McCaster] and those young guys Joe and London [Pearson]. Devon [McNutt] is a little bit different style since he’s more of a big back. But with the young talent coming in, I feel good about the running backs.”

Things got pretty physical and a few scuffles broke out during the scrimmage as intensity was brought to a level not felt for months.

“I think 12 practices in guys are sick of hitting each other,” Pelini said. “Guys are trying to make an impact and sometimes it gets that way. What are you going to do?”

Defensive tackle Donald Mesier had a big day during the scrimmage. Mesier took a long time to get up after going face down in the turf after a collision at the line, but he eventually shook it off and then went back to sack quarterback Hunter Wells on the next series.

“I just reached out too far and landed on someone’s cleats,” Mesier said. “But [that sack] felt good. I got it on the move I was working on today, so seeing the progress of the work you put in felt pretty cool.”

Mesier, like Alessi, was also happy to finally hit people at game speeds instead of casually wrapping up wide receivers while coaches blow the play dead.

“In practices guys would be like, ‘Oh, I would’ve broken that tackle,’ or whatever. But now we really get to see in scrimmages,” Mesier said.

Mesier said despite all the new names on the defense this year, the goal is to go farther than last year’s team. And that can only mean one thing.

“You always want to be better,” Mesier said. “The goal is to be better than the year before. So last year we went to the national championship game. This year we want to win the national championship game.

“Having new faces brings a new edge to us. Last time we went far, but this time we want to win it.”

RAPUNZEL NO MORE

Don’t expect to be able to identify Ricky Wells by the long locks of hair flowing out of the back of his helmet during Friday’s spring game. He has cut most of it off.

“I donated it to a foundation called Wigs for Kids, for kids with cancer,” Davis said. “Everyone was pretty excited to see me do it and I was happy to do it.”

Pelini was quite happy to see the hair gone.

“I’ve been on him since we got here and he’s finally seen the light,” Pelini joked. “It’s kind of like a Star Wars movie. The force is with him now that he has a haircut and looks better.”

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