Though Jody Webb is only the Penguins backup running back, he has redefined what it means to play second string, having already contributed 157 rushing yards and two touchdowns this season.
But Webb wasn’t always a Penguin.
He started his collegiate career at the University of Toledo and participated in spring practices for the Rockets back in 2013. Living in Toledo, though, posed certain challenges for Webb and kept him from fully concentrating on football.
“When you live in a city your entire life, you have a lot of close friends, and there are certain things that your friends are able to do that you shouldn’t do,” Webb said. “They’re your friends so you put yourself in situations with them whether they are good or bad. I felt like I needed to separate myself from a lot of things going on with them, and I decided to live my own life.”
Desiring to change location and focus solely on school and football, Webb transferred to Youngstown State University with enough time to join the football team before the start of last season.
“I was looking for somewhere else to go and I felt like getting away from Toledo was the best thing for me,” Webb said. “I knew some people here in Youngstown and they recommended Youngstown State. So I came down here and looked at the campus and I decided to come here.”
Head coach Eric Wolford maintains a reputation for treating his players as if they were members of his own family. For Webb, Wolford’s father-figure mentality played a huge role in determining where he wanted to play.
“I felt like that had a big role in my decision,” Webb said. “When I finally got a chance to meet Coach Wolf, I enjoyed the way he spoke to me and the way he carried himself. He didn’t treat me like I was below him. He treated me as if I was a human being and he was trying to get close to me, and I enjoyed his conversations.”
Since coming to YSU, Webb has become a model athlete for the Penguins, and Wolford believes that the tailback’s future is bright.
“He’s a young guy; he’s only a sophomore for us. He’s a great player,” Wolford said. “He’s very unselfish and works hard. He has a lot of things to learn, but he’s working on it. He’s a very smart guy and a student of the game and he does well in school. So we’re excited about his future.”
Webb is no stranger to success. He graduated from Whitmer High School in Toledo, where he played football, ran track and earned the Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association Hilton Murphy Player of the Year. Webb credits his time spent on the track with his success on the football field.
“It helped me with my speed and my quickness, my first step and my quick twitch. So it plays a big role, and I doubt I would be as quick as I am without running track,” Webb said.
Webb and the rest of the Penguins football team will travel to Missouri State University, where they will take on the Bears in their first conference matchup of the season on Saturday, Oct. 4.