Tight end Joiner security blanket for YSU QBs

‘Project’ tight end

Miles Joiner has

made big strides

By Brian Dzenis



However Youngstown State’s quarterback battle between Nathan Mays and Joe Craycraft pans out, tight end Miles Joiner will still see plenty of balls thrown his way.

Joiner’s workload has stayed consistent in fall camp when either QB has received first-team reps. Both have used the 6-foot-4, redshirt sophomore as a security blanket. It makes sense, since he is the team’s returning leader in touchdown receptions with four.

“We put a lot of work in with the quarterbacks in spring ball and we worked out together all summer,” Joiner said. “We’ve got good timing and we’re continuing to work on it everyday.”

Despite having just two years of high school football experience, he emerged his the top player at his position despite sharing a meeting room with three players who were transfers from FBS schools. An injury to Ohio State transfer Kierre Hawkins opened up a spot in the lineup for Joiner

He ended up being a long-term project who is ahead of schedule.

“We knew when we recruited him that it was going to be a development thing,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “His approach has been great and he’s made a lot of strides. I give him a lot of credit. He put the time in and it’s paying off for him.”

Joiner fancied himself as a basketball player at Butler High School in Dayton, but learned as he got bigger that the better path to a free education was on the football field.

“I was I like, ‘I need to pay for college.’ I didn’t want my parents to pay for it. I was growing and the football coach was like, ‘Maybe you can play football?’” Joiner said. “I thought about it and did a camp here at Youngstown State. [Quarterbacks coach] Joe Ganz took a chance with me and I had a scholarship.

“I was behind. I was raw — I’m still raw — but I’m still working and trying to reach his goals.”

Joiner is looking to get better at his route-running and spacing this fall. Across his position group, Hawkins is still working his way back from the knee injury he suffered in last year’s camp. He does some work in the 7-on-7 portions of practice but Joiner and teammate Josh Burgett get most of the work with the entire first-team offense. Joiner pulls down jump balls and Burgett blocks and they have the dynamic down.

“Me and Miles, we know our roles now. We’ve been doing this for a while. When we’re both in we know who’s supposed to be doing what,” Burgett said. “We have our strengths and weaknesses and we do the best we can.”


Pelini confirmed on Wednesday that redshirt junior wide receiver Darius Shackleford will miss the season after tearing his ACL on the first day of fall camp.

“It was a weird play. He kind of got tied up on the sideline [making a catch],” Pelini said. “Obviously he’s down, but he’ll make a full recovery.”

Shackleford caught 11 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns last season. Pelini said the team will try to get him a medical redshirt.


The Missouri Valley Football Conference announced its preseason all-defensive unit on Wednesday. YSU had no first-team selections, but defensive end Shereif Bynum and cornerback Bryce Gibson were honorable mentions.


Fans can meet members of the team at Saturday’s “Meet the Penguins” event at Stambaugh Stadium. The free event is from 2 p.m to 3 p.m. Fans can get autographs and photos and interact with the members of the 2019 Penguins. The squad will take its team photo during the event.

Parking is free in the M-72 and M-71 lots.


Girard two-way lineman Haeden Gump committed to on YSU Wednesday night. The player announced his decision via Twitter.