YOUNGSTOWN – Youngstown State wraps up spring football this morning as the Penguins participate in their annual Red-White Game.
The action starts at 11 a.m. at Stambaugh Stadium. Admission is free, but there is a $5 parking fee. The team will play two halves of 20 minutes each with normal hourly procedures.
The returning contributors will be distributed between the two teams, according to YSU. Members of the offensive line will play for both teams, as will quarterback Mitch Davidson, who will play early before reserves Bo Brongard (red) and Max Planck (white) take over for the rest of the day.
The red team has tailbacks Daria Rushton, Jake Benio, receiver Max Tomczak, defensive end Andres Lerman, linebackers Greg Benton Jr. and Keon Freeman, safety Tejon Jones and defensive backs Amarian Robinson and Jordan Trewers.
Specialists Andrew Lastovka (kicker), John Roh (long snapper), and Brendon Kilpatrick (punter) are also on the red team.
Receivers Bryce Oliver and Latrell Fordham highlight the White Team’s offense. The defense was completed by Dylan Woodkey, linebackers Alex Howard and Devin Johnson, collateral Quincy Linton and Marcus Hooker, defensive linebacker/Sam DeMarco Augustin and fullback Ezekiel Blake.
Professionals in the field include Clay Medvic and Jonathan Schmidt, long snapper Sam Merriman and gravers Kyle Walker.
Here are some things to watch for during the day:
How is the running game
See without Jalil McLaughlin?
The biggest question facing YSU offense is how life would go without All-American running back Jaleel McLaughlin.
Senior Dra Rushton, a Liberty alumnus, is the senior statesman in the room. In fact, he is one of only two seniors, the other being Steubenville alumnus Caleb Mitchell. In last year’s reserve fee, Rushton recorded 329 yards and two touchdowns on 71 carries. He also made 11 kickoffs. In the passing game, he caught just three passes for eight yards, a notably low production by McLaughlin (1,504 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, 16 receptions for 279 yards and two touchdowns).
But ostensibly, Rushton will take on the role of bell cow.
Behind him, things look wide open. None of the remaining rednecks contributed from previous seasons, making the RB2 fight one to watch both tomorrow and at fall camp.
Beyond that, it’ll be interesting to see how, if at all, YSU’s running style changes. McLaughlin was slick in a bottle, but Rushton was more than just a runner among the beamers.
To ask any of the currently listed backcourt cars to feature McLaughlin’s home run potential would not be fair – McLaughlin has been tailgating for generations with unparalleled speed. As such, how YSU attacks on Earth might look a little different.
How will the backup QBs perform?
Mitch Davidson is clearly the main man under center, but Springfield grad Bo Brongard and Petal Park, Pa., native Max Planck remain unproven, having redshirted in 2024.
Blanc is 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds and is a more traditional passer, while Brungard, as local high school football fans know, is a more dual threat.
They both also come with impressive high school credentials. Blanc was a Class 5A Allegheny Six All-Conference Second Team selection his senior year, having thrown for 1,348 yards and 11 touchdowns on 97 completions.
Brungard, of course, had an illustrious career at Springfield. As a senior, Brungard was a Division VI All-Ohio Offensive Player of the Year and an All-Ohio selection after going 112-for-159 for 1,779 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also ran 147 times for 1,754 yards and 32 scores.
The battle of experience..and lack of experience
Perhaps the most exciting thing as YSU wraps up its spring and begins preparing for its fall roster is the amount of experience that returns.
Davidson and his largely entire team of receivers are back together, the offensive and defensive lines still mostly intact, as are the linebacker and secondary corps.
With so many starters returning for each team today, it will be interesting to see how that translates in terms of making plays and chemistry.
It also makes the fights behind them interesting. YSU prides itself on being a developmental program, and there are plenty of young people on the roster to prove themselves. Can someone come out as a major player from this game and move on to the fall?
We’ll get that answer and more this morning.