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Notre Dame transfer VanGorder will start YSU’s opener against Butler

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Notre Dame transfer VanGorder will start YSU’s opener against Butler

By Brian Dzenis

bdzenis@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Youngstown State is sticking with the quarterback nicknamed “Gummy.”

After Tuesday’s practice, head coach Bo Pelini named senior Montgomery VanGorder the starting QB for the Sept. 1 season opener against Butler.

“I think he’s confident. For the most part, he makes good decisions — he hasn’t been perfect by any means — but I think he’s got better,” Pelini said. “He has a good handle on our offense and he’s made plays. I feel really good about where he is in his development.

“We’ve thrown a lot of stuff at him defensively, but he’s handled it very well.”

VanGorder has been exclusively practicing with the first team for the past week as incumbent Nathan Mays sat with a nerve issue in his leg. He wasn’t at practice as he was undergoing further medical evaluation, but Pelini isn’t concerned with his availability for the season.

“We actually got positive news on it,” Pelini said “We didn’t know what was causing his issue, but the doctors are on it and we can get it fixed.”

VanGorder will make his first college start. The Buford, Ga., native was a reserve quarterback for the past three seasons at Notre Dame, only getting on the field last year as a holder for kicks.

A conversation with Pat Pelini — Bo’s son and a walk-on with the Irish — led VanGorder to the Penguins.

“I’m just going to treat it the way I’ve been treating it my entire life. I’ve been playing quarterback since I’ve been putting pads on,” VanGorder said of his first start. “You try to keep everything the same from practice and you apply it to the game.

“Obviously, there’s more emotions involved. You have a band, the crowd and all that stuff. You have to zone out and focus on the 11 guys in the huddle.”

YSU has had a shaky history with keeping quarterbacks upright, using four in 2016 and three in 2017. Even with the QB job settled, there’s still the possibility Mays could see the field in certain situations, quarterbacks coach Joe Ganz said. If history is an indication, the rest of the QBs need to stay ready.

“I was in that situation when I played and I tell those guys you’re one play away from being a starter,” Ganz said.

“It’s helped them by seeing us play two or three quarterbacks, so you have to be ready so you don’t get embarrassed on the field. It keeps the guys engaged, but you hope you’ll be that ultimate competitor to be a starter.”

FAST LEARNER

VanGorder isn’t the only Georgia native earning a starting role.

Sophomore Terray Bryant — who is from Atlanta — has excelled at camp in a short amount of time. He was a reserve player last year when he was injured playing special teams against Indiana State. He missed the final three games of the season and spring practice.

He entered fall camp as a linebacker, but injuries to DeShon Taylor and Kyle Hegedus have him dropping 15 pounds to start at safety.

“My head was spinning at first, but I know I’m an athlete and I know my teammates needed me,” Bryant said.

“They needed me to play safety, so I play safety. If they need me to play linebacker, I’ll play linebacker.”

Bryant intercepted VanGorder in practice and came close to doing it a second time on Tuesday.

CHANGE IN THE BOOTH

Late lineup changes aren’t just limited to the field at YSU. Ed Muransky, Youngstown businessman and former NFL lineman, is rejoining Bob Hannon in the broadcast booth to do color commentary for YSU games on WKBN-AM 570. The pair took in practice on Tuesday.

“They asked me to do them a favor,” Muransky said. I’ve worked with Bob before and it’s an easy transition doing this in August and I can step up and help out.”

Muransky is replacing Chris Sammarone, who is campaigning for a judge’s seat in Sebring, which prohibits him from working as a broadcaster. Muransky previously worked with Hannon from 2010-13.

“The nice thing about Ed is that he played at a high level. He brings instant credibility and the coaches are comfortable talking to him and they’re comfortable with him talking to the players,” Hannon said.

“What I remember about Ed is that he’s a very busy guy. In his first year, he had a playbook for me. He didn’t miss practice and he was ready to go. It was impressive.”