YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s being called “week zero.” This Saturday afternoon down in Montgomery, Alabama, the YSU football team will kick off the college football season against Samford.
It’s the earliest start in school history. But for the Penguins and Bulldogs, they will also be one of just four Division One football games being played in the country. And Saturday at 3 p.m., the Penguins will be the only nationally televised game.
“Yeah, you try not to think about that just because it’s going to make you a little nervous. You think about the gravity of the situation and how many people are going to be watching you, but I’ve had a lot of friends text me saying they’re having parties and everybody is showing up just to watch ESPN at 3 o’clock. So it’s going to be pretty wild,” said senior quarterback Nathan Mays.
Senior Justus Reed is making his return to the field after missing the entire 2018 campaign to injury.
“We’ve been beating each other up for the past three weeks, so we’re really excited just to get out there and let all of our aggression out on somebody else other than our fellow teammates,” Reed said.
“Coach Terry’s been talking about the game. He says it’s one of the biggest games Youngstown State has ever played,” said senior safety Kyle Hegedus. “He’s been talking about that the entire summer. He’s instilled that in us, so we’re fired up and ready to go.”
The big question is who will start at quarterback. Senior Nate Mays and sophomore Joe Craycraft have been competing for the job all summer. Head Coach Bo Pelini has yet to name Saturday’s starter.
“I don’t treat the quarterback position any different than any other position,” Pelini said. “Every day you have to go out there and earn it and compete hard. Competition is good for everybody, but I think they’ve both earned the right to play. They both have played really well.”
“I’m not going to lie. It would probably take a little bit of the nerves off so I could sit back and focus on exactly what I got to do. Right now, all I’m doing at practice is trying to make the football team better. Come Saturday, whatever happens, we’re going to have the best person on the field,” Mays said.