YSU’s recruting list again big on locals

Spring workouts begin Feb. 24

By Brian Dzenis



National Signing Day has changed, but Youngstown State’s recruiting classes have remained dotted with local football talent.

Three of YSU’s seven spring signings hail from the Mahoning Valley in former Hubbard and West Virginia center Matt Jones, Cardinal Mooney’s Cheriff Jamison and Warren Harding’s Troy Jakubec. Combine them with the new, earlier signing period in December, and that makes for six locals out of 20 signees.

With the majority of football recruits being accounted for earlier in the winter, it’s removed some of the drama that typically accompanies the first week of February. Penguins coach Bo Pelini acknowledged the two-signing period system has some merit, but there’s still plenty of criticism.

“We can get these guys out of the way and let them make their decisions. I think the worst thing about it is rushes recruiting and I don’t think that’s ever good for the kid, the coaches or program,” Pelini said. “I think there’s more mistakes now. I think people are in such a hurry to get their class and get signatures that it discounts what a kid does as a senior. Kids sometimes fly under the radar their senior season and that helps us, but I have my own feelings. Me and the NCAA aren’t on the same page.”

Jones’ addition represents another new wrinkle in college football recruiting: the transfer portal. The transfer portal is a one-stop shop through the NCAA where athletes who are interested in transferring enter their information online and simply wait to be contacted by coaches.

For Pelini, getting Jones was a way of finishing something he started when he first arrived as YSU’s coach a week before Jones signed with the Mountaineers after the Penguins’ making a last-second pitch.

“Matt is a great kid and I think it was close. I think he fought with that decision,” Pelini said. “His family is here and his roots are here. I think he’s excited to come back here and play in Youngstown in front of his family.”

While Pelini is a fan of Jones, he’s not a fan of the transfer portal.

“I think it could be structured in a different way for situations like if a coach leaves or whatever. It’s too easy for kids to run out and look where the grass is greener,” Pelini said. “I think a lot of these kids are in for a rude awakening. If you’re struggling at one place, it’s not going to get easier at another. There’s competition everywhere.”

Jamison is a three-star prospect at defensive end, according to rivals.com. He fielded offers from Kentucky, Temple and numerous Mid-American Conference schools before choosing the Penguins. Jakubec, a wide receiver and defensive back for the Raiders, will arrive in Youngstown coming off a season where he was a first-team All-American Conference Gold Tier selection.

The other Ohio spring signees are Trotwood-Madison offensive lineman Jaison Williams and Miamisburg defensive end Dylan Wudke. The Penguins also snagged two recruits from Florida in Doral linebacker Andres Lehrmann and Miami defensive back Demetries Ford.

The team has also added several local walk-ons: Canfield’s Jared Tincher and Collin Hritz, Valley Christian’s Jordan Trowers, Lakeview’s Tony Crish, Warren JFK’s Isaac Hadley, Cardinal Mooney’s Jason Santisi, McDonald’s Alex Cintron and Josh Celli and Salem’s Turner Johnson.

YSU will start spring practice on Feb. 24 and some of the winter signees will see their first action, like Poland kicker Colton McFadden, who transferred from Kent State and Girard quarterback Mark Waid, who graduated from high school in December.

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