Zinni commits to YSU

BELOIT – Now that West Branch lineman Jake Zinni has made his college choice, he’ll be concentrating on his final high school football season that kicks off next month.

On Monday, Zinni verbally committed to continue his career at Youngstown State University in 2015.

“I got my offer a little over a month ago and have been thinking about it ever since,” Zinni said. “(Just before noon) I called and said I was accepting the offer. We’re all really excited about it.”

His father, Tim, also was a YSU recruit after an outstanding career at South Range High School.

“It’s close,” Zinni said. “I went to a (Youngstown State) game last year and one my sophomore year with a couple of upper classmen.”

He is expected to play on the offensive line.

“They recruited me for the offensive line,” Zinni said. “I’m willing to play anything they want me to.”

West Branch coach D.J. Dota expects Zinni to play as an interior linemen, at guard or center.

“Not that he can’t play outside, but that is where he fits best,” Dota said. “He was a 300-pound kid last year playing both ways. I think sometimes we forget as coaches, we’re asking kids to play a whole lot more than we used to (because of no-huddle offenses).”

Zinni said he will receive a 75 percent athletic scholarship and Youngstown State’s was his only official offer to date.

“It started a week after signing day,” Dota said. “People said they were going to come through – some smaller Big 10 and Mid-American Conference schools.

“I’m sure he would have gotten some Division II offers because they wait for people to fall through. I think he’s pretty happy with his decision.”

One of Zinni’s neighbors, West Branch graduate Jacob Griffith, was a walk-on at Youngstown State last season.

“I have talked to him in the past (about Youngstown State),” Zinni said. “He’s a good friend.”

Zinni joins Youngstown Mooney kicker Zak Kennedy as two of Youngstown State’s early commitments.

“It was an experience I was blessed to have,” Zinni said. “It was a crazy process. It won’t be over until I sign my name on the line (in February).”

His early plans are to study journalism with the hopes of one day being a sports writer.

“Football is my favorite sport,” he said. “I have a special place in my heart for track.”

Zinni was the area’s top weight man in the spring, topping the list in the discus (167-feet-8) and shot put (a school-record 53-feet-8).

He became one of only seven West Branch boys to ever place in the state track meet as he finished fifth in the Division II discus (163-10) last month.

“It definitely benefited him,” Dota said. “If I was a recruiter, and I’m not, I would want multiple-sport athletes because it shows they love to compete. That is why we want multiple-sport athletes at West Branch.”

The Warriors’ football season gets under way on Aug. 29 and opponents will be keeping an eye on Zinni knowing he is a Youngstown State recruit.

“I don’t really worry about it,” Zinni said. “I’m going to play my game. If they do, great. If they don’t, they should.”