Former safety Donald D'Alesio is in his fourth season as a member of the Youngstown State football coaching staff and second as the Penguins' defensive coordinator.
Throughout his YSU career, D'Alesio has been the Guins' defensive line coach.
In his first year with the program in 2016, D'Alesio had two standout defensive ends in NFL Draft Picks Derek Rivers and Avery Moss.
Rivers was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by the New England Patriots with the 83rd overall pick while Moss was selected in the fifth round by the New York Giants as pick No. 167. Both players were first-team All-MVFC selections and received invitations to the NFL Scouting Combine. Moss was selected to the East-West Shrine Game while Rivers played in the Senior Bowl.
Rivers, who was named a second-team All-American, started all 16 games and finished with 58 total tackles, including 44 solo stops. He had a career-high 15 sacks with 19.5 TFLs and 21 quarterback hurries. Moss played in 15 games and was credited with 59 total tackles, 42 of which were solos. Moss had 11 sacks and 17.5 TFLs as well as eight hurries. He led the team with four forced fumbles.
Additionally, defensive tackle Savon Smith proved to be a playmaker with 39 total tackles, 10.5 TFLs and five sacks.
Combined the members of the defensive line had 222 tackles, 56.5 TFLs, 37 sacks and 38 quarterback hurries for the year.
In 2017, D'Alesio had pair of new defensive ends to work with, but the unit was stout once again. Overall defensive linemen combined to make 19 sacks led by Fazson Chapman and Justus Reed who each had five. The group also had 27 hurries as YSU's defense allowed the fewest passing yards in the FCS.
Reed was named to the MVFC's All-Newcomer squad despite just playing in seven games. He had sack-fumble recoveries against Pittsburgh and Southern Illinois. He returned the fumble for a score at SIU. Smith and Mesier were solid in the interior of the line. The pair combined for 59 tackles. Chapman entered the year with one career stop and registered 40 tackles in 2017. He had a team-high 10 QB hurries and 7.5 TFLs.
In 2018, the defensive line was the most consistent performing unit on the squad. Smith had the best year of his YSU career and recieved second-team All-MVFC honors. Smith had a team-best six sacks and was second with 8.5 TFLs. First-time starter Shereif Bynum had a team-high 11.5 TFLs and finished with four sacks. The unit of Bynum, Wes Thompson, Smith and Johnson Louigene combined to start every game, but one. Senior Lamont Ragland started the final home game of his college career in place of Thompson. Three times YSU held an opponent to under 100 yards rushing or passing.
D'Alesio, who was a defensive back at YSU from 2010-14, served as a defensive quality control coach before being elevated to defensive line coach in the spring of 2016. He spent the 2015 season working alongside defensive line coach Carl Pelini. Headlining the line was Rivers who set the school career record for sacks in his junior campaign while earning first-team all-league accolades.
A graduate of nearby Cardinal Mooney High School, D'Alesio was a safety for the Penguins during his five-year YSU career. He had 274 career tackles while starting 44 contests and playing in 48.
His best year came during his senior campaign in 2014 when he was second on the team with 91 total tackles, including 45 solos. He also had a pair of interceptions. In 2013, he was credited with 70 stops, including 40 solos. As a third-year sophomore in 2012, he had 38 tackles. As a true freshman in 2010, he made 69 tackles, 41 of which were solo stops.
At Mooney, he helped lead the Cardinals to a perfect 15-0 campaign and a Division III State Championship as a senior in 2009. Mooney finished the year ranked No. 3 by MaxPreps, 20th by Rivals.com and No. 9 in the Midwest by USA Today. On the year he was a second-team Northeast Inland District selection as a defensive back playing for coach P.J. Fecko. During his sophomore campaign, the Cardinals advanced to the Division III title game.
D'Alesio earned his degree in Business from Youngstown State in the spring of 2014.