Published February 7, 2013
Some thoughts from YSU's signing day press conference.
1. YSU coach Eric Wolford mentioned other teams "getting negative" a couple times when trying to steal recruits from the Penguins.
At one point, he even mentioned YSU having the "fourth-safest campus in the state of Ohio."
Look: Youngstown has a tough reputation, in a good way and a bad way. But as Wolford said Wednesday, negative comments will backfire with a lot of recruits. And if you don't have enough positive things to say about your own university, you're not going to be there very long.
2. That reminds me: Kentucky recruit Marcus McWilson told me that after he switched his commitment from Nebraska to the Wildcats, one of the "reporters" who covers the Cornhuskers tweeted that "in four years he'd be back in Youngstown and in jail."
That's bush-league, obviously, but it goes to show you how close some reporters get to the teams they cover. And it goes to show you the misconceptions surrounding Youngstown.
3. Wolford's going to take some flak about not having more area recruits (Brookfield's Ryan Mosora and Poland's Connor McFadden are the only two in this year's class) but he feels Ohio gets over-recruited.
As I mention in my Vindicator, Ohio has the second-most FBS schools (eight) of any state in the country. (Texas leads with 10.) Add in ScoutingOhio.com and it's hard to find diamonds in the rough.
4. Just before last year's signing day, Wolford had Mark Porter pull all the YSU verbal commitments from the ScoutingOhio site because he didn't want other schools (specifically, Akron) targeting his guys. He feels like some coaches will wait and see which players he recruits, then hone in on them.
Wednesday's Plain Dealer had a small story about Aurora safety Jake McVay, who had offers from Slippery Rock and Findlay three weeks ago, then got an offer YSU. After verbally committing, Bowling Green and Kent State each lost safeties that had given verbal commitments and targeted McVay, who switched to Kent.
5. With QB Patrick Angle leaving the program and Dante Nania switching to safety, there's some uncertainty behind Kurt Hess.
Nick Wargo redshirted last year but looked solid on the scout team. And I was impressed with Ricky Davis' highlight film during Wednesday's press conference.
Davis (6-3, 200) showed a strong arm, good mechanics, nice feet and a good feel for the position. He's a better runner than Wargo.
6. Wolford spoke highly of defensive tackle Octavius Brown, who is a huge (6-0, 275) run-stuffer out of Georgia Military Academy. He also really likes DT Ricky Hagood, a senior out of Columbia, S.C., who was high on their board from the beginning. He praised Bryant "B.J." Welch, an Orlando native who got a couple late offers but stayed committed to Youngstown State. (He looks explosive on film.) And Wolford believes TE Jacob Wood (Tallmadge) who is 6-5, 220 and was rated No. 1 on their recruiting board.
7. I liked what I saw on tape of defensive end Vince Coleman, a junior college recruit who needs to add some muscle to his 6-3, 235 frame. He he showed some really nice pass-rushing moves from his end position, which is something YSU needs.
8. Wolford repeatedly praised YSU's president, Dr. Cindy Anderson, as well as a lot of the deans and faculty who spent time with the recruits on Saturdays. He believes if he can get a recruit on campus to see the facilities and the commitment from YSU's administrators, he's got a 95 percent chance of landing that player.
"There's a wow factor that favors Youngstown State," he said.
9. Part of that "wow factor" is the fact that YSU's facilities were good enough to host the San Francisco 49ers each of the past two years.
"That's intriguing to our recruits," Wolford said. "When you get these kids up here and they walk through our locker room and see the tradition and walk through that WATTS center, you see that this place is for real."
10. In a lot of ways, I think this year's recruiting class was the most challenging of Wolford's tenure. (Although he'll argue that his first, which he assembled in just over a month, was tougher.)
Missing the playoffs sucked some of the air out of the program, which entered last fall with really high expectations. Wolford also dealt with the first significant criticism, some of it coming from me.
With Kent's resurgence, Akron coach Terry Bowden's name recognition and a mediocre year, talent-wise, in the Valley, Wolford really had to search for players he felt had the talent to compete for championships at the FCS level. And although he didn't say so, it's obvious he lost a lot of guys he wanted to other schools.
But he got a good group. Now it's up to him to develop them and get YSU into the playoffs.