By Christina Sainovich, Jambar Contributor
The Youngstown State University football team is off to a dominant start this season due in part to the many transfer athletes that are part of the program.
Four of the Penguins’ starters didn’t begin their collegiate athletic careers at YSU but will finish them at the university.
YSU, being a Football Championship Subdivision school, is the ideal landing spot for many transfer players. Any athlete coming from a Football Bowl Subdivision school does not have to sit out a year due to the transfer rule.
Defensive Coordinator Donald D’Alesio said with the transfer portal being relatively new, the coaches will look into it more.
“Now, we will look into the transfer portal just for guys or positions that we feel are a big need,” D’Alesio said. “We will now start to use the transfer portal a little bit.”
Justus Reed, senior defensive end, spent his first two years at the University of Florida.
A coaching change for the Gators pushed Reed to transfer, and when he found out his former teammate Alvin Bailey was playing for the Penguins, his decision was made.
Reed said the football tradition and coaching staff made YSU the perfect landing spot for him.
“I wanted to play; I didn’t want to sit out. I just wanted to get on the field,” Reed said. “So, when I found out Coach Bo was here, and I found out that Alvin was here, it was a done deal.”
Reed said the transfers are very important to the team’s success this season.
“We’ve got Zaire [Jones], who came in balling out, playing really well. He’s really important. We’ve got Matt Jones, who’s really important.”
Zaire Jones is yet another transfer to start for this YSU team immediately. He transferred from Vanderbilt University after last season and has quickly made a name for himself with two key interceptions in the first game of the season.
Matt Jones, graduate transfer center, is from the Youngstown area. He spent the first four years of his career at West Virginia University before transferring home to play his final year of eligibility.
“It’s home. I guess I could have went anywhere, but this is where I started watching football; this is where college football started for me,” Matt Jones said.
Jones hopes to continue his football career after YSU in the NFL.
Sophomore kicker Colten McFadden, son of former NFL player and YSU Foundation President Paul McFadden, said community support is also a big draw for players looking into YSU when trying to make their transfer decision.
McFadden is another local product who has returned home to play football.
McFadden spent two years at Kent State University and said he learned a lot in his time away. He is excited to be back in front of his hometown.
“You get to play in front of this town, this community. I grew up here, and it’s just been something I’ve always wanted to do,” McFadden said.
While transfers do make up a big part of the starters for the Penguins, the players say they are no more important than the rest of their teammates.
“I don’t look at it as a transfer role. I mean we are all part of this team together. We’re all one,” said McFadden.