Published February 12, 2013
When Youngstown State hired Eric Wolford to replace Jon Heacock in December, 2009, his biggest selling point was his ability to recruit. He had spent the 2009 season with SEC-member South Carolina after two years with Illinois (Big Ten) and the hope was he would be able to land the type of players that could restore the Penguins to their 1990s glory.
So, how has he done?
I'll let you decide, but one thing is clear: Don't get too excited about national signing day.
Last week, Wolford signed his fourth recruiting class, so I thought it would be a good time to look back on his first three, as well as Heacock’s final class.
As you’ll see, there’s been quite a bit of turnover, although some of that is due to Wolford signing a lot of junior college players. One of Wolford’s favorite sayings is “We’ll keep filling the boat,” meaning he’ll keep adding players and live with departures. It’s an SEC-esque approach that can leave some hurt feelings and is a little more cutthroat than YSU fans are used to.
Is it working? Well, Wolford has increased his win total each season from three to six to seven, but the jury is still out.
Here’s a breakdown of each class. Junior college signees and Division I transfers are listed in bold. This list is limited to classes signed on February’s national signing day, so players like linebacker Dom Rich (a walk-on from Canfield who joined the program in 2009) or linebacker Travis Williams (a Division I transfer from Miami, Fla., who joined the team in the summer of 2011) have been left off.
Also, when it comes to projected 2013 starters, this is a conservative forecast. There are plenty of spots up for grabs (particularly on the lines), and it’s tough to project in February.
Signees: Theo Barnes DL; Jelani Berassa WR; Jamaine Cook TB; Sylvestry Gibbs LB; Fred Herdman, OL; Kurt Hess QB; Taylor Hill, DE; Gannon Hulea, Ath; Nick Liste, P/PK; Torrian Pace, TB; Conner Seeman, TE; Carson Sharbaugh, TE; Kyle Stadelmyer, LB; Rob Stupar, FB; Averick Walker, CB; Brandon White, OL
No longer with program: Barnes, Cook, Gibbs, Hill, Hulea, Seeman, Stadelmyer, Walker, White.
Projected 2013 starters: Berassa, Hess, Liste, Pace, Sharbaugh.
Analysis: Heacock’s final recruiting class was one of his best and continues to pay dividends five years later. Hess had a shaky stretch during 2012 but is poised to finish his career with every significant YSU passing record by the time he graduates. Berassa missed last year with an ACL tear after looking terrific in summer camp. Liste is as steady as they come. Pace and Sharbaugh may not be starters by the opener but are solid contributors. Cook was the team’s best player two of the last three years.
Nate Adams, TE; Patrick Angle, QB; Jamarious Boatwright, CB; Ali Cheaib, LB; Donald D’Alesio, DB; Chris Elkins, OL; Eric Franklin, OL; Allen Jones, RB; Zach Larson, OL; Meiko Locksley, QB; J.P. May, OL; Grant Mayes, CB; Stephen Page, DE; Michael Shope, OL; Thomas Sprague, LB; Marc Stevens, OL; Jordan Thompson, RB; Kevin Watts, WR
No longer with program: Angle, Franklin, Jones, Larson, Locksley, May, Mayes, Shope, Sprague, Stevens, Thompson.
Projected 2013 starters: Boatwright (nickel), D’Alesio, Elkins.
Analysis: Just seven of the 18 players from Wolford’s first recruiting class remain and only Elkins has played at an all-conference level. Boatwright and D’Alesio saw significant time as true freshmen before taking medical redshirts in 2011. D’Alesio started every game at free safety last year and Boatwright saw significant action in the second half of 2012. Adams and Cheaib are solid role players. Watts regressed last fall.
Tahir Blount CB; David Brown PK; Christian Bryan WR; Nick Buonavolonta CB; Zach Conlan DL; Nick DeKraker; Kintrell Disher WR; Jeremey Edwards S; Josh Fenderson DL; Brandon Ferguson OL; Ian Folmar II DL; Demond Hymes TB; Emmanuel Kromah DE; Lamar Mady OL; Jordan Markota LB; Jimmy May, Jr. DB; Aaron Morgan LB; Eric Myers DE; Dante Nania QB; Blake Novotny DE; Dubem Nwadiogbu LB; Mark Pratt OL; Luis Quinones DE; Davion Rogers LB; Aronde Stanton DT; Trevor Strickland DE; Andre Stubbs WR; Sir Aaron Taylor S; Brandon Thomas WR/CB; Mike Thomas CB; Andrew Williams WR; Teven Williams LB; Justin Yuran LB/LS; Steve Zaborsky DE
No longer with program: Blount, Brown, Buonavolonta, Conlan, DeKraker, Edwards, Fenderson, Ferguson, Folmar, Mady, May, Morgan, Novotny, Pratt, Quinones, Rogers, Stanton, Taylor, Mike Thomas
Projected 2013 starters: Bryan, Stubbs, Andrew Williams, Teven Williams
Analysis: Wolford’s best recruiting class was heavy on impact junior college transfers. Problem is, those players have used up their eligibility, leaving big holes to fill. Nwadiogbu broke into the starting lineup before injured forced him to redshirt. Bryan and Teven Williams have been starters the past two years, Andrew Williams emerged toward the end of last year and Stubbs has shown flashes of his potential, as have players like Disher and Hymes. There’s been a lot of departures but a lot of talent remains.
Matt Bell DL; Kevon Caffey LB; Chris Charles S; Julius Childs CB; Jamar Clark WR; Dylan Colucci OL; Brandon Davis DL; Brock Eisenhuth OL; Jordan Feeser TE; Twin Fernandes S; Dana Harris OL; Terry Johnson LB; Chavien Nolcox LB; Byron Pringle WR; David Rivers DB; Jameel Smith FS; Anthony Szymczak DL; Austin Trgovcich DL; Nick Wargo QB; Michael Wheary WR; Mac Wightman OL; Terrell Williams DE; Christian Wilson OL
No longer with program: Charles, Pringle, Szymczak, Trgovcich, Clark, Davis, Nolcox, Rivers, Wightman
Projected 2013 starters: None.
Analysis: Nine of the 23 players have already left (or never arrived on campus in the first place) and most of the remaining players are still mysteries. This was the first class where Wolford was able to redshirt most of the incoming freshmen.