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Veteran coach says YSU made good choice

BEAVER TOWNSHIP — The Youngstown State football team is currently transitioning from the Bo Pelini era to a new age with the hiring last week of former Penguins’ assistant coach Doug Phillips.

Phillips became the eighth head coach in this, the 80th season of Penguin football, while John Peterson, who served as Pelini’s offensive line coach last season and has known Phillips for some time, is one of the assistants being retained and entrusted with helping to make the transition as smooth and effortless as possible.

“I’ve been at YSU for a little over a year now and during that time I’ve come to realize that this is a very passionate place,” Peterson told the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly meeting at Avion Banquet Center. “They have a fan base that loves their Penguins and they want to see success, both on and off the field.

“I’ve known Bo since he was right out of high school and President Tressel a long time as well. After 29 years in the business, it’s about being around the right people.”

Peterson spent eight seasons (2004-11) at Ohio State, seven of which were under Tressel and the last under Like Fickell, helping the Buckeyes to six outright or co-Big Ten championships, an 80-22 (.784) overall mark and two (2006, 2007) BCS championship game appearances.

His strong Ohio ties also include stops at the University of Akron, Miami University and the University of Cincinnati, as well as a three-year stint at the University of Pittsburgh under former YSU gridder Pat Narduzzi.

After spending two-and-a-half days last week in Columbus with over 1,900 coaches, Peterson said the consensus at the clinic is that Phillips will do a good job as YSU’s next head coach.

“The is an awesome opportunity for Doug,” Peterson added. “They all love him and he’s a true example of a teacher. Coaching is teaching and as a high school and college coach, and administrator, he will serve YSU well.”

Peterson said the work Phillips did at Iowa State with the Cyclones’ program and most recently with Luke Fickell at the University of Cincinnati, is nothing short of amazing.

“The success that Doug has had with head coach Matt Campbell at Iowa State and the last two seasons with Luke Fickell at the University of Cincinnati is absolutely mind-boggling,” he said. “He’s passionate about where he’s at and what he is doing.

“He knows folks in the area, can walk in a door and already has a huge network of friends and good relationships. He’s long-term.”

With 24 recruits already in the fold, Peterson said the Penguins’ incoming class is impressive.

“The unique part about December’s early signing period is that 99 percent of our class was signed,” he said. “Last Wednesday, we added quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw of state champion Pickerington High School and all are good kids committed to coming to YSU.”

Moving forward, Peterson said Phillips has a different type of recruiting that he must first perform.

“The main guys he needs to recruit are the guys currently on the team,” Peterson said. “He must meet with them, build trust, first and foremost, and he will do just that.”

Peterson said he has loved the time he his time spent coaching in Ohio.

“In my 24 or 25 years of coaching in this great state, I’ve seen an awful lot and been around a lot of great people,” he said. “As long as you have an opportunity to impact people, you’re in the right business.”

Peterson’s son, Cole, is also a student assistant with the YSU football program.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity that I have and just as blessed to say that my son is working behind the scene as well,” he said. “He’s a young guy, willing to learn and not many coaches can say they are roommates with their 21-year-old son.”

Next Monday, YSU President Jim Tressel will be the guest speaker.

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