YSU NOTEBOOK | More from Stambaugh Stadium on Friday
Still king: On a team rich with running backs, Tevin McCaster is still the king.
The senior from New Castle, Pa., was 17th in the nation in rushing yards with 1,066 and his 13 rushing touchdowns led the Missouri Valley Football Conference last season. His exploits have him on the watch list for the Walter Payton Award, which is given to the best offensive player in FCS.
“I’m very blessed for it,” McCaster said. “I’m very thankful for it.”
The Penguins did not graduate any running backs from 2017 and carry nine on the roster. Staying ahead of them and building on his successful junior season has been the focus for the whole offseason.
“You have to come out here and work your butt off,” McCaster said. “It doesn’t start now, it started in the summer and leads into now and you have to put it all together.”
In the trenches: Both sides of the line are seeing their share of competition. On the offensive side, things are steady in the middle with center Vitas Hrynkiewicz and guards Gavin Wiggins and Connor Sharp returning, but there are new faces at tackle. Redshirt Dan Becker currently occupies the spot held by departed All-American Justin Spencer and junior Devon Robinson is at right tackle, but it’s just the first day of camp.
“We have guys. We have to figure out who can do what, what their strengths and weaknesses are and work on them,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “Going in, we’re probably deeper on the offensive line than we have been since I’ve been here.”
For the defensive line, it’s a similar situation. Seniors Savon Smith and Lamont Ragland can safely be penciled in as starters at tackle. Returning starter Johnson Louigene still has his first-team spot at end. At the other DE spot, both Shereif Bynum and Ma’lik Richmond have seen first team reps.
Mum on Meyer: Pelini is excited for camp and the season, but there was no rush to discuss college football’s biggest story. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer — who briefly competed against Pelini when the latter was head coach at Nebraska — is currently on administrative leave as the university investigates his knowledge of domestic violence allegations against former assistant Zach Smith.
“I don’t really know anything about it. I can’t comment on it,” Pelini said. “I really haven’t followed it to know it well. It’s hard to comment when you don’t know the facts at this point.”