When Jim Tressel was at the helm in the ‘90s, Youngstown State University’s on-field success helped market its football program.
Upon taking the reins, Eric Wolford pursued prospects by selling a program with a new image.
Over the past couple of years, YSU has snagged high-caliber players from high schools and through transfers.
Some transfer players include senior offensive lineman Lamar Mady and senior defensive tackle Aronde Stanton, who are from Butler Community College in Kansas and Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan, respectively.
Senior Jeremy Edwards, safety, and Luis Quinones, defensive end, are from El Camino College Compton Center, a junior college in California. They came to YSU together.
“I went to El Camino Compton Center with Luis,” Edwards said. “We were both offered a scholarship, and we both accepted.”
Redshirt freshman Dante Nania, a quarterback, who graduated from Hempfield Area High School in Pennsylvania, said he chose YSU for multiple reasons.
“[YSU] showed a ton of interest right after junior season, and they were my first offer,” Nania said. “I came to YSU the summer before my senior season with Christian Bryan, and we worked out with the staff. … The next day, they offered both of us scholarships, and we committed.”
However, Nania didn’t choose YSU just for its athletics.
“Education was also a big part,” he said. “I wanted to be a teacher, and I found YSU to be a great university for education majors.”
Emmanuel Kromah, also a redshirted freshman, is a defensive lineman from Hamilton High School West in New Jersey.
Like Nania, YSU reached out to Kromah after his junior year.
“The interest and love YSU showed me was better than any other school,” Kromah said. “After coming to a game, I witnessed the energy all of the fans had, and I enjoyed it.”
Players like Steve Zaborsky and Quinones said they chose YSU because of close ties they have to Ohio.
“The overall reason I came to YSU was Coach Sims and the other defensive linemen that were recruited,” Quinones said. “Together, as a defensive line, we could be great. My mom is from Ohio, so I kind of knew I was going to come here.” Zaborsky said YSU’s coaches are what really stood out.
“The facilities are comparable to all other FCS schools and even better than some FBS schools,” he said. “The whole time aspect of being so close to home helped. Those three major things helped make my decision to come here easier.”
Zaborsky was a major find for the Penguins, as he played close to their backyard at Austintown Fitch High School. Zaborsky is a redshirted freshman defensive tackle.
Tom Sims, assistant head football coach, played another part in a prospect’s decision.
Zaborsky said that Sims, his positions coach, was his favorite.
“If you ask any of the guys on the team that plays different positions, Coach Sims will be their favorite. He is so down to earth. He plays it straight with you, and he never leads you on with anything,” Zaborsky said. “He’s always there for assistance on and off the field, and he really takes care of his players.”
Zaborsky also complimented Sims on his knowledge of the game.
“What he coaches is backed up by his impressive resume of playing in the league for a number of years,” he said.
Kromah said he is optimistic about YSU’s football program.
“I believe we, as a team, have a bright future and can go very far,” he said.