Craig, YSU defense play well in second scrimmage


By Brian Dzenis

bdzenis@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

As Youngstown State held its second scrimmage this fall, it quickly became apparent that the day would belong to the defense.

Redshirt freshman defensive tackle DeMarko Craig Jr. has taken ownership of a spot in the starting lineup this fall alongside Boardman graduate Wesley Thompson and made the most of his time on Saturday. He tied the team lead in tackles with six and was credited with blocking a field goal attempt from Colton McFadden.

“We aren’t satisfied, but we’re kind of happy with today,” Craig said. There’s still a lot of improving to do.”

Craig credits an increased understanding of the playbook for his newfound playing time. The opening was created by the graduations of Savon Smith and Lamont Ragland. Defensive line remains a position that doesn’t trouble head coach Bo Pelini too much.

“DeMarko has played really well, Antoine Cook has done well. Wes has been picking it up after starting slow in camp. He’s coming into form,” Pelini said. “Vinny Gentile has done good things and so has Dontae Cilenti. We have some good depth and our defensive line.”

On the opposite side of the ball, another young player who worked his way into first-team consideration was true freshman wideout C.J. Charleston. The Gilmour Academy product is coming off one of the best careers in Lancers history. He ended his high school career as a Mr. Football finalist after scoring 49 rushing touchdowns. In basketball, he’s the program’s all-time leading scorer and was a 2018 Division III state champion in the long jump and 4x100 relay. On Saturday, he dove to catch a Joe Craycraft pass that was wiped out by a penalty.

“He’s a young kid that’s swimming in it a little bit mentally, but he’s got great quickness. He runs good routes,” Pelini said. “He’s coming along on the mental side of things and I think he has a chance to be a really good player.”

A GHOST AS A GUEST

Last Tuesday, the team had former middleweight boxing champion Kelly Pavlik visit with the team.

“Kelly did a good job. He relayed some of the things he went through in his career and what it takes to be a champion,” Pelini said. “I thought it was a really good thing for our kids to hear.”

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