DE gets 2 more years of eligibility

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown State University football team got its first win of the season on Saturday, and it had nothing to do with what happened on the field.

The Penguins found out defensive end Justus Reed was granted two more years of eligibility by the NCAA. Reed, who transferred from Florida after the 2016 season, missed his senior year with an Achilles’ tendon injury, and he also missed all but two games of the 2014 campaign with Florida because of injuries, leading to the second year of eligibility.

Reed made an immediate impact with the Penguins in his first year of 2017. Trying to fill the void left by NFL prospects Derek Rivers and Avery Moss, the 6-foot-3, 270-pound Reed tied for the team lead with five sacks. He forced two fumbles and returned one 21 yards for a touchdown. He did it all in just seven games as he again dealt with injuries.

He should step in immediately for the Penguins and help bolster one of the strengths of the team at defensive line. Reed missed spring practices, but YSU coach Bo Pelini indicated he should be 100 percent when the Penguins begin preseason camp in July.

LOCAL FLAVOR: Several athletes from the Mahoning Valley have joined the football program over the last few years, and while most are young and in position battles to see the field, their growth is starting to show.

Former Trumbull County Player of the Year Dra Rushton, of Liberty, is now at running back. He played quarterback for the Leopards and was recruited as an “athlete,” but he was moved to running back at YSU. He made the most of his opportunities in Saturday’s scrimmage — the final one of spring practice. The 5-foot-11 redshirt freshman made one of the most entertaining plays of the day, juking out a defender whose knees buckled as he fell to the ground on a long run.

Poland receiver Michael Diaz, another redshirt freshman, caught a touchdown pass on one of the final plays. He broke open in the corner of the end zone and hauled in a 12-yard TD.

Junior wide receiver Jacob Coates, a John F. Kennedy graduate, caught a 65-yard touchdown after he got a step on his defender in the middle of the field. Girard’s Mark Waid, a true freshman who graduated early so he could participate in the spring, made an accurate throw on the play.

Cardinal Mooney graduate Ray Anderson, a sophomore linebacker, is in line to fill the void left by all-conference linebacker Armand Dellovade. Anderson started five games as a freshman was named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s All-Newcomer team.

Several other Valley players are in battles at various positions.

AREA SPECIALTIES: The influx of homegrown talent is most obvious on special teams.

Coates has been a kick and punt returner during his first two years on the team and will continue to hold those roles. At different times last year, Coates was joined on kick returns by South Range’s Joe Alessi, who’s also battling to be the starter at running back.

Poland’s Colten McFadden is vying to take over at place kicker after the departure of Zak Kennedy (a Mooney product). McFadden spent two years at Kent State, kicking off for the Flashes in 2018, before transferring to YSU this past winter. Fitch’s Nick DeSalvo and South Range’s Brandon Youngs are battling to be the Penguins’ punter.

The Penguins have a break before preseason camp opens in late July.

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