By Jeff Brown
Youngstown State University signed 30 football recruits on Wednesday’s National Signing Day in the first recruiting class for new head coach Bo Pelini.
Pelini made one thing clear with this recruiting class: he wanted to win back the state of Ohio.
“We went outside the state a little bit, but we really focused our efforts in the state of Ohio and western Pennsylvania,” Pelini said. “The bulk and majority are fairly local. Kids that I think understand the tradition of Youngstown State University and what the expectations are.”
The class is highlighted by South Range running back Joe Alessi who was named Ohio’s Division VI Offensive Player of the Year and also earned All-State honors.
However, the commitment that may make the most immediate impact may not be an incoming freshman. Defensive end Avery Moss is transferring to YSU from University of Nebraska, where he has spent the past 3 seasons with Coach Pelini.
In 2013, Moss played in 12 games for the Cornhuskers and started in three of those games. He was credited with 36 total tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and showed off his athleticism by returning an interception for a touchdown in a game against Northwestern University last season.
“I brought in Avery because I have a history with him. I believe in the kid,” Pelini said. “I think it’s a blessing to this program to get Avery in the fold and a part of this program. Not only because of the type of football player he is, but because of the type of man he is.”
Moss is the only transfer student committed to YSU, as Pelini said he wanted to focus on bringing in high school recruits.
“I wanted to bring in high school kids first and foremost — kids that are going to be in this program for a number of years — who are gonna help us build the culture the way we want the culture of this program to be both on and off the field,” Pelini said.
Pelini said he expects a number of the recruits to compete for playing time as early as next season, but said they will have to earn it.
“They’ll all be given the opportunity to compete, as are the guys on campus now,” he said. “I have never walked into a recruits home and said ‘You’re gonna come in and play.’ That’s up to them.”
Pelini was happy with this year’s class and said the team accomplished what they wanted too, but according to Pelini, recruiting is just starting now.
“Really in my opinion recruiting doesn’t end today, it really starts today because now with those young men it’s about time to get them going, get them coached up, really focus our efforts now on the other men that are on campus that are in school and hit the offseason and get ready for spring practice,” Pelini said.