YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Day 2 of fall practice is in the books for the YSU football team as they inch closer to the season opener against Samford. Several position battles out there on the field for the Penguins, including at offensive line where West Branch grad Jacob Zinni looks to gain a full-time starter role. Had two starts last season but he told me today he hopes to step up in a big way in 2019.
“I’ll do whatever this team needs me to do,” said Zinni.
It has been an up and down career for Zinni with the Penguins. Five starts as a sophomore, just two as a junior and flip flopped from guard to center and now back to guard. But now as a senior, Zinni is looking to have a breakout year.
“I am a little stronger, clearly a little quicker, slimmed down a bit the last year which I think is going to help me a lot,” Zinni says.
“And you know just the mental side of things, at this level, everyone is going to be big and strong but if your mental side is there you are going to be fine.”
“I think he will,” head coach Bo Pelini says.
“He has throughout the off-season. He is starting at guard for us right now and he is also a guy who can play center for us if need be. He has a lot of experience and has played a lot of football.”
The Penguins line lost four starters last year but with Zinni stepping up and the addition of some transfers, the hope is the line leading the way for a high powered Penguins offense.
“I think our O-Line is going to be very, very good,” says running back Christian Turner.
“We are going to make a big step from last year. I just like the way it is looking right now with a lot of our new pieces, I think it is a much better feel and we are going to get a lot more movement.”
“I think our running back position and our skill positions are loaded,” Zinni says.
“It really comes down on us. Look at every good team around us. It starts with the offensive line. If we are the engine of this team, we will go as far as we want.”
The first two days of camp were both lighter workouts without the pads on. But a big day on Tuesday as the Penguins will go full pads for the first time during fall practices.