Published August 24, 2013
I got a copy of Youngstown State's first depth chart on Saturday and I was surprised by how many new/unexpected names are with the first string. (Alas, I got it after practice, so I wasn't able to ask Wolford about it.)
First, here's the list:
RT — (74) ANDREW SINKO (6-4, 295, SR.); (53) Christian Wilson (6-7, 315, RFr.)
RG — (67) BROCK EISENHUTH (6-5, 315, RFR); (77) Dylan Colucci (6-6, 315; RFr.)
C — (66) CHRIS ELKINS (6-3, 290, SR.); (65) Stephen Page (6-4, 300, Jr.)
LG — (57) FRED HERDMAN (6-4, 290, SR.); (54) Matt Bell (6-5, 295, RFr.)
LT — (71) KYLE BRYANT (6-7, 315, SR.); (55) Trevor Strickland (6-7, 300, So.)
TE — (44) NATE ADAMS (6-5, 240, JR.; (86) Carson Sharbaugh (6-5, 260, Sr.)
WR — (4) ANDRE STUBBS (5-7, 165, SO.); (11) Kevin Watts (6-0, 220, Sr.)
WR — (2) CHRISTIAN BRYAN (5-10, 185, JR.); (16) Marcel Caver (6-3, 185, So.)
WR — (9) MICHAEL WHEARY (5-11, 175, SO.); (80) Andrew Williams (6-4, 185, So.)
QB — (12) KURT HESS (6-3, 230, SR.); (3) Dante Nania (6-0, 205, So.)
TB — (25) TORRIAN PACE (5-11, 225, SR.); (13) Adaris Bellamy (5-10, 215, Sr.)
(FCB) — (23) DEVON MCKOY (5-8, 180, JR.); (31) David Rivers (6-0, 185, RFr.)
(SS) — (8) DONALD D’ALESIO (6-0, 195, JR.); (30) Tre’ Moore (5-10, 195, So.)
(FS) — (26) JAMEEL SMITH (6-0, 205, RFR.) OR (24) JAMARIOUS BOATWRIGHT (5-11, 200, JR.)
BCB — (1) JULIUS CHILDS (6-0, 185, JR.); (14) Eric Thompson (6-0, 190, Fr.)
SAM — (20) DOM RICH (6-1, 235, SR.); (22) Dubem Nwadiogbu (6-2, 230, So.)
MIKE — (3) TEVEN WILLIAMS (6-0, 230, SO.); (36) Terry Johnson (6-0, 225, So.)
WILL — (6) TRAVIS WILLIAMS (6-3, 225, JR.); (10) Ali Cheaib (6-2, 230, Sr.)
DE — (59) TERRELL WILLIAMS (6-3, 255, SO.); (27) Derek Rivers (6-5, 235, Fr.)
DT — (93) EMMANUEL KROMAH (6-2, 280, SO.); (94) Steve Zaborsky (6-2, 270, So.)
NT — (92) OCTAVIUS BROWN (6-0, 305, JR.); (98) D.J. Moss (5-11, 290, Sr.) OR (33) Kyle Sirl (6-3, 260, Sr.)
DE — (90) ERIC MYERS (6-3, 250, SO.); (5) Vince Coleman (6-3, 245, Jr.)
PK — (17) JOEY CEJUDO (6-4, 220, JR.; (81) Nick Liste (5-10, 185, Sr.)
H — (3) DANTE NANIA; (2) Christian Bryan
LS —(43) NATHAN GIBBS (6-1, 225, JR.); (86) Carson Sharbaugh
P — (81) NICK LISTE; (17) Joey Cejudo
PR — (4) ANDRE STUBBS; (2) Christian Bryan
KR — (2) CHRISTIAN BRYAN; (4) ANDRE STUBBS
KO — (81) NICK LISTE; (17) Joey Cejudo
Now, my thoughts:
a. Maybe the biggest surprise was seeing sophomore WR Michael Wheary listed in front of Marcel Caver (who came on strong in the spring) and Andrew Williams (who might have been the team's best wideout by the end of last season). Wheary has a lot of talent but he had an up-and-down first year and is still a little inconsistent in practices.
b. While Demond Hymes will take over the starting RB spot when he returns from an ankle injury (most likely in Week 2 or 3), I'm a little surprised Torrian Pace is listed ahead of Adaris Bellamy. I can't help thinking Bellamy is destined to be one of those "What if?" guys. He's shown flashes but can't seem to stay healthy.
c. No surprises on the offensive line. Four of the five starters are unchanged from the spring game and that's only because senior Andrew Sinko was injured in April.
d. Kyle Sirl, who was the team's best defensive end last season (although that's faint praise because the other two guys who saw action there were invisible), has apparently been moved to nose tackle, which is news to me. That means YSU will have four new starters on the defensive line, which is not a great recipe for success. I honestly don't know much about any of these guys because it's hard to get a read on that position in practices and scrimmages since they rotate so much and aren't allowed to hit the quarterback. But I know this -- the best teams at every level have good defensive lines, and it's usually not a good sign when you're starting three sophomores and a junior who transferred here in December (Octavius Brown).
e. No surprises at linebacker. I'd like to see Travis Williams (maybe the most talented player on the team) make a big jump this fall. He can be a difference-maker.
f. I wrote about the new cornerback, DeVon McKoy, for Sunday's paper. As for the other three defensive back spots, the only real surprise is Wolford's decision to move nickelback Jamarious Boatwright to free safety (I thought redshirt freshman Jameel Smith had a lock on that spot, but they're listed as equals on the depth chart even though Boatwright is battling bad hamstrings). Since SAM LB Dom Rich is much better in run defense than pass coverage, who's going to come in at nickel when he's taken out?
g. Not much to say about the special teams except I think they'll be a lot better. I think former special teams coach Louie Matsakis did a good job with the kickers but the return/coverage units were consistently horrendous.
Kurt Beathard took over for Matsakis and he's a lot more hands-on and Mark Mangino was also pretty vocal during Saturday's practice. (Someone on the YSU support staff even looked over at me during Saturday's practice and said, "Big difference from when Matsakis was here, huh?)
FIVE MORE THOUGHTS
1. One of the things I've heard over and over this summer was about how YSU wanted to improve its chemistry and cut down on the selfishness that crept up at times last season.
It's one of those things you heard about in hindsight — nobody was talking about selfishness in press conferences last fall — but Penguins coach Eric Wolford believed some of the players were too worried about playing time, statistics, etc., and not worried enough about winning.
So, to combat that, he switched up the locker room assignments, breaking up the groups (i.e. offensive linemen together) to build better chemistry.
"I wanted to get guys next to guys that maybe they would never have talked to," Wolford said. "We've talked about being selfless and making sacrifices and playing as a team. It's more of a family atmosphere right now."
2. That message has been adopted by a lot of the team's senior leaders. For instance, when I asked Pace about being listed first on the depth chart, he responded by saying he's focused all summer on being selfless and putting the team first.
"Everyone is just as important on the team," he said. "We all have our role. We're all an asset. If we do our role, our job, our task, we're going to go far."
3. I like pretty much every player on YSU's team but I'll admit Pace is one of my favorites. He's just a good dude.
Wolford even said he wouldn't be surprised if Pace was president someday.
"He's that kind of person," Wolford said. "I wish every kid was like Torrian Pace."
When I asked Pace about it, he laughed and said, "It started when we had speeches in camp. He mentioned that it was my presidential address.
"My mindset is to do whatever I can to be the best I can be. I'm trying to impact as many people as I can."
Pace graduated in May with his forensic science degree. He's now working on his Master's.
4. Speaking of good dudes, I got to talk a little with senior DT D.J. Moss, who had this to say about defensive coordinator (and noted screamer) Joe Tresey: "It's hard not to play hard for a guy who wants to win that bad. He'll get on your [butt] but he's in it for the right reasons."
Since Tresey arrived, Wolford has gotten really quiet at practice. Wolf lost his voice at almost every practice his first year but you can tell he's really happy with his coaching staff because he mostly observes during practices now.
5. Moss is one of YSU's few upperclassmen without a tattoo. His reasoning? He's an education major and he's better off not getting one (or 50).
"They're cool now, but in 20 years do I want to be all tatted up? I don't think so."
Moss said former YSU offensive lineman Bill Dugan, is now a tattoo artist and did a Pittsburgh skyline tattoo for backup quarterback Dante Nania.
Dugan left during Wolford's first year, and offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo told me a great story about it.
"We wanted him to stay but he told me, 'Coach, I have two passions in life: Jesus and tattoos."