Thursday, December 20, 2018
By Brian Dzenis
Youngstown State’s football team brought in seven new players during the early signing period, the team announced on Wednesday.
Including area standouts like East defensive lineman Chris Fitzgerald and Girard quarterback Mark Waid, all seven signees are players coming out of high school.
They include Norwin, Pa., linebacker Gianni Rizzo, Coal Center, Pa., defensive lineman Jelani Stafford, Hudson long snapper Dean Palumbo, Boynton Beach, Fla., defensive back D’Marco Augustin, Huber Heights wideout Steven Victoria and Havre de Grace, Md., defensive back Jordan White.
Rizzo played for the Norwin Knights about an hour and a half from Youngstown, serving as a linebacker and wide receiver. He caught 21 passes for 542 yards, rushed for 139 yards on 22 carries and scored 12 touchdowns. He initially committed to YSU in August after taking offers from Fordham, Albany, Elon and Holy Cross.
Jelani Stafford played just one season of high school football at defensive tackle, but that’s the position he’ll play with the Penguins. He became a standout at California High School because of his prowess as a running back, with a local TV station dubbing him “Baby Bettis” because he weighed as much as 285 pounds at the time, causing him to resemble former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis. The 6-foot-2 tackle has since slimmed down to 265 pounds.
Palumbo is reunited with high school teammate Grant Gonya. The pair is looking to replace the graduating Steven Wethi and kicker Zak Kennedy.
Augustin pulled in four interceptions in his senior season at Park Vista High School while playing some safety and outside linebacker. He also played tight end on offense.
Victoria comes from the same high school as YSU point guard Darius Quisenberry. He caught 41 passes for 700 yards and nine TDs.
White played free safety and wideout as Havre de Grace reached the MPSSAA Class 1A state semifinals his senior year. The Warriors were regional champions in each of his four seasons.
Running back Tevin McCaster and longsnapper Steven Wethli were both named All-Americans by HERO Sports, the college football news and rankings organization announced on Wednesday.
McCaster rushed for a career-best 1,235 yards — the tenth most in the nation — for the Penguins while scoring 12 touchdowns. He was a two-time all-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection during his YSU career.
Wethli was a four-year starter at YSU. He snapped on 59 punts, 30 extra point attempts and 17 field goals his senior season.