The Youngstown State football team will start its spring practice session on Tuesday, March 19. YSU returns 41 letterwinners from last year's 7-4 squad. A group of 14 starters are back for the Penguins as well.
Leading the way on offense will be senior quarterback Kurt Hess. Through three campaigns, Hess owns the school records for career touchdown passes (53), passing yards per game (202.9), passer rating (141.78) and 200-yard passing performances (18). He is also second in school history in yards (6,697) and completion percents (62.3 percent).
The key areas this spring will be replacing three-year starter Jamaine Cook at tailback while finding players to step up on both the offensive and defensive fronts.
Cook started 32 games in his Penguin career, including the five 25 at tailback. The dependable back had 240-plus carries and 1,276-or-more yards in each of his three campaigns as a starter. YSU does have a strong group to battle this spring to take over the load with Torrian Pace, Adaris Bellamy and Demond Hymes all in the mix.
The offensive line lost veterans Andrew Radakovich, Mark Pratt, Lamar Mady and D.J. Main. All together that group combined to start 107 games throughout their YSU careers. The main players with experience are senior Chris Elkins, a first-team all-conference pick in 2012, and senior tackle Kyle Bryant who started the final six games last year. Elkins has started the past 26 games for the games. Stephen Page is the only other lineman with starting experience having stepped in for Pratt when he was sidelined by an injury last year.
YSU redshirted Christian Wilson, Matt Bell, Dana Harris, Dylan Colucci, Brock Eisenhuth and Mason Giacomelli last season while Fred Herdman and Andrew Sinko have been with the program for awhile. Trevor Strickland will also join the offensive line after playing on the defensive front and tight end early in his career.
The defensive line will be without Aronde Stanton, Luis Quinones, Nick DeKraker and Josh Fenderson. Seniors Kyle Sirl and D.J. Moss along with freshman Steve Zaborsky are the players with starting experience on the line. YSU added four transfers (Nate Cox, Vince Coleman, Derek Rivers and Octavius Brown) in January who will help bloster that group's depth this spring. Sophomore Emmanuel Kromah will also look to crack the starting front.
Outside of placekicker, each position returns an impact or key group of players who were big contributors in 2012.
At wide receiver, Andrew Williams became a play-maker late in the year while Christian Bryan has caught a pass in 22 consecutive games. Andre Stubbs had a solid year while Kintrell Disher, Kevin Watts, Marcel Caver and Michael Wheary all return.
At tight end, Nate Adams, Carson Sharbaugh and Jordan Feeser will carry the load with the departure of NFL-prospect Will Shaw. Adams and Sharbaugh have seen significant playing time in their careers while Feeser redshirted in 2012.
Hess and Nick Wargo will get reps in the spring. Wargo redshirted last year along with Jeff Clegg. Bowling Green transfer Tanner Garry will also get a chance to fit for a back-up role.
The defense, which improved signifciantly over the final three games of the season, will be strong in the back seven spots.
At linebacker, Teven Williams, Travis Williams and Dom Rich are all returning starters. Dubem Nwadiogbu was sideline the final two thirds of the season by a knee injury and will sit out spring camp. Ali Cheaib, Terry Johnson and Kevon Caffey are also in the mix.
In the secondary, starting cornerbacks Dale Peterman and Julius Childs are back along with free safety Donald D'Alesio and nickel back Jamarious Boatwright. Senior Josh Garner is slated to step in a strong safety while former quarterback Dante Nania has moved over to the safety spots. YSU redshirted David Rivers and Jameel Smith last year while Twin Fernandes had limited playing time.
Senior punter Nick Liste has been a mainstay with the program for the past three years. This spring, Joey Cejudo will get his chance to punt and earn place-kicker duties for the 2013 season.
Spring Practice Schedule
Tuesday, March 19 - 4 p.m. (1)
Thursday, March 21 - 4 p.m. (2)
Saturday, March 23 - 10 a.m. (3)
Tuesday, March 26 - 4 p.m. (4)
Thursday, March 28 - 4 p.m. (5)
Saturday, March 30 - 10 a.m. (6)
Tuesday, April 2 - 4 p.m. (7)
Thursday, April 4 - 4 p.m. (8)
Saturday, April 6 - 10 a.m. (9)
Tuesday, April 9 - 4 p.m. (10)
Thursday, April 11 - 4 p.m. (11)
Friday, April 12 - Women's Football Clinic
Saturday, April 13 - 10 a.m. (12)
Tuesday, April 16 - 4 p.m. (13)
Thursday, April 18 - 4 p.m. (14)
Friday, April 19 - Spring Game (15)
All practices scheduled for Stambaugh Stadium, but could move to WATTS
Spring Roster Breakdown
Letterwinners Returning: (41) - Offense: 20, Defense: 19, Special Teams: 2
Nate Adams, Adaris Bellamy, Jamarious Boatwright, Christian Bryan, Kyle Bryant, Kevon Caffey, Marcel Caver, Ali Cheaib, Julius Childs, Donald D'Alesio, Kintrell Disher, Chris Elkins, Twin Fernandes, Josh Garner, Nathan Gibbs, Fred Herdman, Kurt Hess, Demond Hymes, Terry Johnson, Emmanuel Kromah, Nick Liste, D.J. Moss, Dante Nania, Dubem Nwadiogbu, Torrian Pace, Stephen Page, Dale Peterman, Dom Rich, Carson Sharbaugh, Andrew Sinko, Kyle Sirl, Trevor Strickland, Andre Stubbs, Parnell Taylor, Kevin Watts, Michael Wheary, Andrew Williams, Terrell Williams, Teven Williams, Travis Williams, Steve Zaborsky.
Letterwinners Lost: (16) Offense: 7, Defense: 8, Special Teams: 1
Patrick Angle, David Brown, Chris Charles, Jamaine Cook, Nick DeKraker, Jeremey Edwards, Josh Fenderson, Chuck Lengyel, Lamar Mady, D.J. Main, Mark Pratt, Luis Quinones, Andrew Radakovich, Will Shaw, Aronde Stanton, Deionte Williams
2012 Redshirts: (19) Offense: 12 | Defense: 7
WR Jelani Berassa, QB Nick Wargo, QB Jeff Clegg, OT Christian Wilson, OG Matt Bell, OG Dana Harris, C Mason Giacomelli, OG Brock Eisenhuth, OT Dylan Colucci, WR Davon Reed, FB Zach Miller, TE Jordan Feeser, LB Tyler Carter, LB Dante DeLorenzo, LB Dubem Nwadiogbu, SSJameel Smith, CB David Rivers, LB Chavien Nolcox, DE Joshmere Dawson
2012 Letterwinners: 57
Lettermen Returning/Lost: 41/16
Offensive Lettermen Returning/Lost: 20/7
Defensive Lettermen Returning/Lost: 19/8
Special Teams Lettermen Returning/Lost: 2/1
2012 Redshirts: 19
Starters Returning: 14 (6 • Offense, 7 • Defense, 1 • Special Teams)
Starters Lost: 10 (5 • Offense, 4 • Defense, 1 • Special Teams)
Offensive Starters Returning/Lost: (6/5); QB Kurt Hess, OG Chris Elkins, OT Kyle Bryant, WR Andrew Williams, WR Christian Bryan, WR Andre Stubbs/C Mark Pratt, OG Lamar Mady, OT D.J. Main, TB Jamaine Cook, TE Will Shaw
Defensive Starters Returning/Lost: (7/4); LB Teven Williams, LB Travis Williams, LB Dom Rich, CB Dale Peterman, CB Julius Childs, FS Donald D'Alesio, DE Kyle Sirl/DT Aronde Stanton, DT Nick DeKraker, DE Josh Fenderson, SS Jeremey Edwards
Specialists Returning/Lost: (1/1); P Nick Liste/PK David Brown