Youngstown State Football Strikes Big on Early Signing Day

Mark Waid (right from center) poses with his family after the Girard Indians defeated the Licking Valley Panthers in the Division IV state semifinals. Waid is thought of as the best part of this year's recruiting class. Photo by Brent Bigelow/The Jambar

By Brian Yauger

On the first day of the early signing period, the Youngstown State University football team added 10 new players, four of which are Ohio natives. These 10 players signed their letter of intent. There will be more as the signing period progresses, but these 10 are joining the Penguin family early.

  • DB – D’Marco Augustin (Boyton Beach, Fla./Park Vista H.S.)

D’Marco Augustin is a defensive back prospect hailing from Boyton Beach, Fla. He was selected to play in the Palm Beach County All-Star Game.

His other Division I offer was from Stetson University.

  • LB – Gianni Rizzo (Norwin, Pa./Norwin H.S.)

Gianni Rizzo is a linebacker from Norwin, Pa. Rizzo also played wide receiver at Norwin. He had 72 tackles in his senior year. Rizzo had fifteen offers as of August when he committed to YSU, but chose the Penguins due to location, and YSU showed that they really wanted him.

“With Youngstown State, it was a distance thing,” Rizzo said. “It’s an easy drive, an hour-and-a-half, so my whole family can come out and watch me. I felt wanted. I got to sit down with coach Bo Pelini. And they play the best competition in FCS football. They play a huge non-conference schedule — they beat Pitt a few years ago. And I get to go there for free.”

He had offers from the University of Akron, The Citadel and Yale University among many.

  • WR – Dayln Brickner (Beaver Falls, Pa./Beaver Falls H.S.)

Dayln Brickner was a multi-talented weapon for Beaver Falls High School, playing quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back while also returning punts for the team. He completed 45-of-86 passes for 1,076 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior. Brickner also rushed for 927 yards on 97 carries, averaged 9.6 yards per carry and combined for six touchdowns – three passing, three rushing – against Waynesburg Central High School.

Brickner previously committed to play baseball for YSU and will be a two-sport athlete for the Penguins.

  • DT – Jelani Stafford (Coal Center, Pa./California H.S.)

Jelani Stafford was recruited as a defensive tackle, but played significant time at running back as well for California High School in Coal Center, Pa. Stafford rushed for more than 1,000 yards his senior year.

He had offers from the University of Buffalo as well as The Citadel and Jacksonville State University.

  • DB – Jordan White (Havre de Grace, Md./Havre de Grace H.S.)

Jordan White is a free safety from Havre de Grace, Md. He also played wide receiver. White was named second-team Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference.

  • OL – Jordan Velez (Kenilworth, N.J./ASA College/St. Joseph Regional H.S.)

Jordan Velez is a Junior College commit who will be stepping in next season as a junior. Velez helped block for an offense at ASA College in New York that averaged 470.8 yards per game, 37.8 points per contest and ranked third in the nation in yards per game and seventh in points per game.

  • WR – Steven Victoria (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne H.S.)

Steven Victoria is a wide receiver from Wayne High School near Dayton, OH. Victoria was a first-team Division I all-area pick by the Dayton Daily News and was a second-team Division I All-Southwest District selection. He was named first-team All-GWOC and caught 41 passes for 700 yards and nine touchdowns.

He had other DI offers from Robert Morris University and Western Illinois University.

  • LS – Dean Palumbo (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson H.S.)

Dean Palumbo is a long snapper from Hudson High School. He also spent some time playing tight end for the Explorers. Palumbo is reuniting with former teammate and next season’s expected placekicker Grant Gonya.

Bowling Green State University was his other DI offer as a longsnapper.

  • DT – Chris Fitzgerald (Youngstown, Ohio/East H.S.)

Chris Fitzgerald is a defensive tackle out of Youngstown East High School. Fitzgerald was a first-team All-Ohio Division IV selection as a senior and was named the All-American Conference Red Tier Defensive Player of the Year. He was a first-team Division IV All-Northeast Inland District honoree and was a three-time first-team all-conference selection. Fitzgerald also had 20 career sacks. As a junior, he had 67 total tackles, including 20 TFLs.

  • QB – Mark Waid (Girard, Ohio/Girard H.S.)

Mark Waid is, for many fans, most exciting addition to the program. Quarterback at Girard High School just up the road, Mahoning Valley football fans are undoubtedly familiar with the name. Waid was formerly committed to Fordham University, but recently announced his intent to sign with YSU instead.

The 2018 Ohio High School Player of the Year Waid has more than 11,000 passing and 4,000 rushing yards in his playing career at Girard. Waid was 267 of 409 for 4,376 yards and 48 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,776 and 26 touchdowns, placing him second in the country in total offense with 6,152 yards.

Waid is ranked as a two-star prospect, 111th overall in the state of Ohio and the 150th ranked quarterback in the country, fifth ranked quarterback in Ohio.

His family couldn’t be happier with the decision.

“That’s where they wanted me to go all along,” Waid said. “I’m so close with my family, my parents, sisters, grandparents. We’re a really close family. It’s an incredible opportunity to play in front of them week in and week out and for them to be at all my games to support me and to support our Penguins.”