New YSU football coaches ready for camp

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Changes to the Youngstown State football team’s coaching staff came quickly.

But the newest coaches are familiar with the YSU coaching staff.

New offensive line coach John Peterson and secondary coach DJ Gomes got their first taste of coaching YSU football on Monday as the Penguins opened spring practice at the Watson and Tressel Training Site.

Carl Pelini also made his return to Youngstown after spending a season as the defensive coordinator and interim head coach at Bowling Green.

Both Peterson and Gomes have a history with the YSU head coach Bo Pelini and defensive coordinator Carl Pelini.

Gomes played for Bo Pelini at Nebraska from 2009-10. He was the cornerbacks coach under Carl Pelini last season. Peterson played at Ohio State from 1987-90 alongside Bo Pelini and coached under Jim Tressel at Ohio State.

Gomes was hired on Thursday to replace Richard McNutt, who stepped down after four seasons with the Penguins on Feb. 17.

“The thing with being a young coach is you have to be firm and you have to be consistent,” Gomes said. “You gotta show guys you’re here to coach ‘em, not be their friend.

“Of course you’re gonna be there at times when they need you, but you’re still their coach. Can’t let little things slide, especially initially, or it’s gonna role downhill from there.”

The former Cornhusker was hired so quickly he didn’t have time to move out of Bowling Green.

“I actually have to be out of that place on Saturday or by Saturday,” Gomes said. “We got practice — as you know — [Monday], Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. Hopefully I make it up there Thursday.”

Peterson has nearly 30 years of coaching experience, spending the last three years at Pittsburgh. He also coached at Akron, Miami (Ohio) and Cincinnati.

Peterson replaced Carmen Bricillo, who spent 10 seasons with the Penguins. Bricillo left YSU to become a assistant for the New England Patriots on Feb. 11.

“Every year is a new year,” Peterson said. “Transition can create opportunities. I’m learning who [the offensive linemen] are, they’re learning who I am.

“The exciting thing about spring practice is the ability to kinda reinvent yourself and have a fresh slate.”

Bo Pelini’s contract is set to expire Thursday, but the deal is coming soon. The Penguins head coach said he and YSU are finishing the details.

“It’s basically done and it should be any day now,” Bo Pelini said.

Tight end Kierre Hawkins, safety Kyle Hegedus and defensive end Justus Reed won’t fully participate in camp.

Reed and Hegedus suffered season-ending injuries prior to the start of last season. Hawkins played in two games before a knee injury sidelined him for the year.

“They’re in kind of a rehab program right now,” Bo Pelini said. “But they’re out here coaching, helping. Some are out here going through individuals, doing what they can do. I know come next fall camp they’ll be ready to go.”

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