Published February 5, 2014
1. There have been a lot of rumors swirling around about the future of YSU defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, whose unit finished last in the Missouri Valley conference in yards per game by a huge margin (50 yards).
The Penguins have already lost two coaches this offseason (tight ends coach Mark Mangino is now Iowa State’s offensive coordinator and Illinois State hired WR coach Kurt Beathard as its offensive coordinator) and when I asked Wolford if he expects any more staff changes, he said, “Not that I know of, but I get resumes all the time. Seems there might be more jobs open than I know. But as far as I know, we’ve got two jobs open and the response has been overwhelming. I’ll start to work on those the next few weeks. We have a lot of really good coaches that want to work here and that’s encouraging.”
This is what we in the newspaper business call a “non-denial denial.”
2. With Wolford entering the final year of his original five-year contract, YSU athletic director Ron Strollo said last month that he plans to give him an extension.
Wolford said he’s been too focused on recruiting to think about that contract and said most of the details will be handled by his agent.
“I’ll have a representative obviously sit down and work out anything we need to work out contract-wise and make sure it’s good for both parties,” he said. “We’re excited about the fact that the community, [YSU president] Dr. [Randy] Dunn, Ron Strollo has confidence and sees the things that we’re doing here. We hope to continue to get better every year. It’s not coming at a fast-enough pace for me. It never will. But our pursuit of a championship will never change and we’ll never back down from that. That’s the way we recruit, that’s the way we coach. That’s the way we’ll talk. Some people say, ‘Well, it’s not as easy to do nowadays [at YSU.’ I say, ‘Well, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.’”
3. One of the big questions about this year’s recruiting class is: Where are all the defensive linemen?
YSU recruited just one, Adrian Rankin (6-3, 240) of Cincinnati Winton Woods, even though defensive line was a position of weakness last fall. By contrast, YSU added three running backs this year, even though its top two rushers were both freshmen last fall.
YSU did recruit six defensive linemen last year (although one of them, junior college transfer Nate Cox, left the team before training camp), and Wolford believes there are several from the 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes that are ready to emerge. He also hinted that he’s still recruiting players for that position.
“I feel good about our guys,” Wolford said. “Rankin’s a guy that’s got the size that we’re looking for there. There’s some other potential opportunities out there that I can’t really discuss.
“I wasn’t gonna reach. Like I said before, I’m not going to take a guy that’s not better than Derek Rivers, Vince Coleman, Emmanuel Kromah, Steve Zaborsky, those guys. Those guys are all good players for us. Octavius Brown’s healthy. He was hurt all last year. I feel good about where those guys are. They’re getting bigger and stronger in the weight room and putting weight on and doing the things they need to do to dominate the line of scrimmage and that’s our expectation up front.”
4. Wolford said 12 of his 24 signees were in camp last summer and called it an important part of the process, comparing it to test-driving a $100,000 car.
“If you want to be recruited by Youngstown State, you need to come to camp,” Wolford said. “We’ll always take a guy from camp first.”
5. Wolford believes that to compete for a championship in the Missouri Valley, he can’t just recruit players good enough to play at the FCS or Mid-American Conference level; he needs to find players good enough to play at the Big 12 level, since North Dakota State beat Kansas State in last year’s regular season opener.
“We’ve got to find a guy who can help us beat a BCS team,” he said.
The Penguins lost 15 seniors from last year’s team, including five all-conference players (OL Chris Elkins, P Nick Liste, QB Kurt Hess, FB/TE Carson Sharbaugh, DE Kyle Sirl) and Wolford expects most of the defensive recruits to compete for playing time.
“I think a lot of those secondary guys, they can come in here and have a chance to be on our two-deep immediately,” he said. “The offensive linemen I want to redshirt. I don’t put any limits on the skill positions. I think a good portion of those linebackers, safeties, corners, tight end and running backs, those guys all have a shot to go.”