Wells, Penguins open fall camp
Wells, entrenched as top QB,
opens camp with Penguins
By Brian Dzenis
A few defensive linemen jump offsides, there were a few false starts and some passes landed on the sidelines instead of in receivers’ hands.
The Youngstown State football team was not its polished self when it opened its fall camp Thursday morning, but there are still 30 days to go before the Penguins face Pittsburgh on Sept. 2.
“There was a lot of energy around here and that’s kind of what you want on the first day,” Penguins linebacker Armand Dellovade said. “I know everybody messed up. Me, the entire defense and the entire offense. We got a long way to go, but this is a good first step.”
Head coach Bo Pelini shares the sentiment.
“It’s about evaluation on both sides of the football,” Pelini said of day one. “It gives you a start and then you build things from there.”
BACK ON TOP
Senior quarterback Hunter Wells appreciates the head coach naming him the starting QB at the beginning of camp, but there’s still work to be done.
“It’s nice having that in the back of your head, but I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Wells said. “It’s my senior year and there’s a lot I need to improve and there’s no room for me to ease back as the ‘starter.’”
Wells came out of last year’s camp fourth on the depth chart.
“That was a unique position to be in. It taught me to keep fighting no matter where you are [on the depth chart],” Wells said. “There’s always hope.”
On of those guys ahead of him on the depth chart in 2016 — Ricky Davis — caught a pass from Wells on Thursday. Wells said Davis is making a good transition to wide receiver.
“He’s athletic. I’m not surprised and I don’t think anyone on staff is — that’s why they put him there,” Wells said. “He can play a lot of positions for this university.”
NO PARTICULAR ORDER
Pelini cautioned against interpreting a lot from who got the carries at running back on the first day of practice.
Incumbents Joe Alessi and Tevin McCaster received the most reps with the returning offensive starters, but on the next rung down the ladder, Cincinnati La Salle freshman Christian Turner saw extensive work.
“He’s a good player, but we have a bunch of guys and we’re not concerned with who’s working with what group right now,” Pelini said. “We’re just giving them reps to see where they are.”
NOT MANY CHANGES
Not many Davis-esque position switches appear to be on the horizon, per the head coach. Freshman Jake Cummings — a Canfield graduate — moves from QB to wide receiver in college and sophomore defensive end Ma’lik Richmond (Steubenville) will plant a hand on the ground after spending his high school career as a linebacker.
Pelini’s said his golf viewership had fallen by the wayside with camp starting, but he mustered a prediction for the Bridgestone Invitational, which started in Akron on Thursday.
“I guess I gotta go with [Jordan] Spieth,” Pelini said.
Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mike Tomczak watched the Penguins practice. There’s a chance he could be doing more than that this fall.
“I’ve known Mike for a while and he wants to volunteer a little bit,” Pelini said. “He wants to observe a little and get his feet wet before jumping back into football things.”
Tomczak’s last coaching gig came in 2010, when he was the offensive coordinator for the Arena Football League’s Pittsburgh Power.