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YSU to lose starter at DE

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State defensive end Antoine Cook has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, according to his Twitter account.

The announcement was a surprise as the 6-foot-4, 255-pound junior had been a starter for the first three games of the season and was often mentioned as a team leader. He has six tackles and one tackle-for-loss through three games.

Cook, of McKeesport, Pa., did not specifically explain his reason for the potential transfer in his social-media message. He thanked players and coaches, past and present, along with a few administrators.

“I love and appreciate everyone who has supported me throughout my journey,” he wrote in his Twitter message. “I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons throughout my time here at YSU. With that being said, I’ve decided to enter the transfer portal as a graduate transfer with 2 years of eligibility to continue my academic and athletic career.”

Cook is one of several players to transfer during Doug Phillips’ first year as head coach. Most of the transfers occurred over the past few months, with the NCAA loosening its transfer policies. Just last week, senior linebacker Malachi Newell entered the portal. The Farrell (Pa.) native had not been a starter during his career. He did play in the first two games of the season, recording four tackles and one tackle-for-loss.

Running back Braxton Chapman left the program in February, joining Northern Illinois. Chapman, another Farrell native, was the team’s second-leading rusher in 2019 with 404 yards and five touchdowns. Tight end Miles Joiner, a junior, also transferred to Northern Illinois. Joiner started 11 games in 2019 and was the team’s third-leading receiver with 21 receptions. Former starting linebacker and Cardinal Mooney graduate Ray Anderson, the Penguins’ third-leading tackler in 2019, transferred to Southern University in October. Fellow Mooney grad Jaylen Hewlett, a running back, transferred in February.

All of the aforementioned players were recruits of former YSU coach Bo Pelini.

The Penguins (0-3) play at South Dakota State at 3 p.m. Saturday.

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