Penguins Get Early Jump On Spring Drills With Late February Start

Savon Smith
Savon Smith

The Youngstown State football program opened spring practice on Monday with a two-hour workout in helmets inside the WATTS.

The Penguins had a quick turnaround between the end of the 2016 season and the start of the 2017 campiagn. YSU played in the Division I National Championship Game on Jan. 7. Started winter conditioning in late January and were back on the practice field at the end of February. Camp will get done by April 7.

On offense, YSU returns solid numbers at quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line and tight end.

Senior QB Hunter Wells started the final nine games last season posting a 7-2 record and leading the Penguins to the title game. Reserves Nathan Mays and Ricky Davis return as well. Mays emerged as the No. 2 late in the season while Davis began last year as the Guins' starting QB.

Wide receivers Alvin Bailey, Darien Townsend, Damoun Patterson, Stefan Derrick, Isiah Scott, Jeremiah Braswell, Robert Byrd, Zack Torbert and Ryan Emans all return while I'tavious Harvin, who redshirted a year ago is back.

At tight end, Kevin Rader, Shane Kuhn and Anthony Parente are back and Virginia Tech transfer Chris Durkin joins the deep unit. 

Gone are four-year mainstays Jody Webb and Martin Ruiz at tailback. But Tevin McCaster rushed for 638 yards on 129 carries and scored 11 touchdowns last season. Joe Alessi returns after seeing some reps while redshirts London Pearson and Devon McNutt will get a chance in their first springs with the program.

Defense will see some new faces with major contributors moving on.

The defensive tackles are solid with Savon Smith, Cody Squiric and Donald Mesier all returning. The starting ends are Fazson Chapman and Johnson Louigene and they have some big shoes to fill with the departures of Avery Moss and Derek Rivers.

Linebacker will be a solid position with second-team all-league pick Armand Dellovade and Lee Wright back to lead the group. Sophomores Malachi Newell, Christaan Randall-Posey and Curtis Parks all have some experience.

The secondary will see a massive overhaul. YSU must replace six players who saw the bulk of the action over the past few years. Looking to emerage this spring will be Jalyn Powell and Billy Nicoe Hurst at the safety spots, D.J. Thomas and Avery Larkin at cornerback among others. Soloman Warfield, Chrispin Lee, Mike Nash, junior College transfer D.J. Smalls and 2016 redshirt Darius Hall are all in the mix to play in the secondary.