Youngstown State has a significant amount of returning talent for the 2019 season. Based on last year’s poor record, there is a lot to prove this season. Here are the Five YSU Players To Watch In 2019, that could be looking at breakout years.
Five YSU Players To Watch In 2019.
5.) Cash Mitchell; linebacker
Mitchell is entering his senior season at Youngstown State and has been seeing action since 2017. Last season, Mitchell played in nine games and made seven starts. He had 35 total tackles, 2.5 of them were tackles for losses and broke up two passes. His biggest game came against the North Dakota State Bison at the FargoDome where he had six solo tackles, one for a four-yard loss. Against the Illinois State Redbirds at Hancock Stadium, he had eight tackles. He had six tackles in the game against Valparaiso (three solos and three assists). he had six tackles and had the two pass breakups against the Northern Iowa Panthers. Mitchell earned his second letter last season and now is going to be relied upon to be a difference make on defense if the Penguins have a shot at the post season.
4. Justus Reed; defensive end
Justus Reed has been with the football program now since 2017 after transferring from Florida. Reed missed 2018 after getting injured during the summer. With the injury, he has two years of eligibility left for YSU. In 2017, he was named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer team and had 15 total tackles and also hurried the quarterback seven times. His big games in 2017 came when he had a sack-fumble recovery against the Pittsburgh Panthers, four tackles against Central Connecticut, and returned a fumble for 21 yards against the Southern Illinois Salukis. Watch for Reed to be a threat at the defensive end position.
3. Miles Joiner; tight end
Miles Joiner was a redshirt freshman last season, and had a good start to his career as a Penguin. Just like Reed in 2017, Joiner was named to Missouri Valley All-Newcomer Team. He played in 10 games starting eight of them, and caught 12 passes for 202 yards and four touchdowns. His best games were against North Dakota State where he had 38 yards receiving for two touchdowns. He also had 63 yards receiving against Northern Iowa and caught a career-long 58-yard touchdown against Illinois State. Even though he is only in year two, Youngstown State will expect a step up in production from Joiner in order for the offense to click.
2. Nathan Mays; Quarterback
In what could be the biggest benefit to the Penguins, one of their most experienced players is at quarterback. Mays has been with the team since 2015. He played eight games in 2017 but was reduced to four last season as Montgomery VanGorder took most of the snaps. Mays did start against North Dakota State however, and had 120 yards on 10-17 passing and a touchdown. He also rushed for 68 yards during the game. In his YSU career so far, he has passed for 1,332 yards, seven touchdowns, and three interceptions.
Mays has also rushed for 679 yards on 160 carries and scored four touchdowns. He had some highliught moments in 2018 besides the game at Fargo. Mays threw a nice 58-yard touchdown pass to tight end Miles Joiner against Illinois State in the season finale. He also ran 10 times for 28 yards against Indiana State.
With Vangorder transferring to Georgia, the job clearly belongs to Mays, based on experience. His performance will determine whether YSU can be a contender again.
1. Christian Turner; running back
With Tevin McCaster now graduated from Youngstown State, that leaves the door open for both Christian Turner and Joe Alessi. Turner has had more reps at running back then Alessi, but the two will likely share the running back duties in 2019. Turner has been with the program since 2017. In 2017, he had 997 all-purpose yards (440 rushing, 285 returning, and 272 yards receiving). In 2018, he took a tiny step backward in all-purpose yards but still played really well.
He played in all 11 games starting, in two of them, had 736 all-purpose yards (179 rushings, 196 receiving, and a touchdown. He also returned 15 kickoffs for 361 yards). Turner had big games against teams like Western Illinois where he had a career-high eight catches for 55 yards as well returning kickoffs for 76 yards and returned three kickoffs for 79 yards against Indiana State. Turner has the ability to have a big year as an all-purpose back.
YSU Players Main Photo:
File photo. Youngstown State Penguins. (Phot courtesy FBSscehdules.com)