By Greg Gulas
With four basketball games, the start of spring football practice and the baseball team set to open their season this weekend, it is shaping up to be a busy week for Youngstown State sports information director Trevor Parks.
It’s the type of week that Parks and his staff look forward to as they continue to spread the word about the Penguins’ athletic teams.
“With our football team, head coach Bo Pelini has a new offensive coordinator and co-defensive coordinators so he’ll be quite busy this spring,” Parks told the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly meeting at Avion Banquet Center.
Brian Crist, who has been on Pelini’s staff the past three years, takes over the offense from the departed Shane Montgomery – he is now the offensive coordinator at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte — while Richard McNutt and Donald D’Alesio will now share defensive duties, taking over for Carl Pelini who left to become the defensive coordinator at Bowling Green.
“Brian has been in our system and while he’ll probably keep things similar offensively, he also wants to leave his own imprint,” added Parks, who with 17 years and six months at the helm is the longest-tenured SID at the school.
“Joe Ganz, who was our tight ends coach and played quarterback for coach Pelini at Nebraska, is the new tight ends coach while Tim Marlowe moves from the secondary to become our wide receivers coach.”
Parks noted that four quarterbacks will get a long look this spring with Nathan Mays the most experienced returnee. Red-shirt freshmen Conor Collins and Joe Craycraft are in the mix, as well as Montgomery VanGorder, a graduate transfer from Notre Dame.
“Bo has always been hands on with the defense and this is a great opportunity for both Richard and Donald,” Parks said. “Donald played here so it’s great to see his continued progression as a coach.”
In addition to Parks, who is responsible for the dissemination of information for its 19 men’s and women’s varsity sports, full-time assistants include Jamie Hall and John Vogel, and graduate assistant Drae Smith.
Six students round out the sports information staff, all assisting with its ESPN3 broadcasts and game day duties as well.
“Baseball is the only sport that isn’t streamed on ESPN3 and it’s because Eastwood Field currently doesn’t meet broadcast requirements,” Parks said. “We’re working on that and hope to be able to stream home games in the near future.”
The men’s basketball team plays Wednesday (Oakland) and Friday (Detroit Mercy) while the women’s squad takes on Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Thursday and nationally ranked Wisconsin-Green Bay on Saturday.
“Our women’s team is on a four-game win streak and for the first time ever, have won five consecutive league road games,” Parks said. “It’s great to see freshmen Chelsea Olson and McKenah Peters contribute. Kelley Wright hasn’t played a lot, but since she was inserted into the lineup she has provided a spark and made a difference.
“Indiya Benjamin has had a great career and is now our all-time assists leader. She’s usually the smallest player on the court, but isn’t afraid to mix it up.”
Parks added that the men’s team has been fun to watch under first-year head coach Jerrod Calhoun.
“We’ve already won five Horizon League games, which is as many as we won last year. I think we can finish with as many as eight conference wins and that would be a huge step in the right direction,” he said. “Cam Morse has had a great career and with 1,829 career points, is just 171 shy of becoming just the third player ever in program history to score 2,000 points. It will be an interesting last few weeks of the season.”
Morse is chasing Jeff Covington, the men’s scoring leader with 2,424 points while Tony Knott is second with 2,218 points.
“With our basketball seasons winding down, spring will soon be here and our softball season is already underway, having split their four games this past weekend at the Gardner-Webb Tournament,” Parks said. “Baseball kicks off this weekend with a three-game series at Belmont University starting Friday, so it’s definitely a busy time athletically at YSU.
“We’re hosting the Horizon League indoor track and field championships Feb. 24-25 and it’s definitely worth coming out to watch Jaynee Corbett, Abby Jones and Chad Zallow.”
Next week, YSU president Jim Tressel will be guest speaker.