Story by Bubba Kapral, Executive Sports Editor
SHADYSIDE — Sam Merryman is en route to becoming a Division I football playing Penguin.
Merryman has been a versatile and productive performer the last four years for the Shadyside High grid program. Now those skills have helped to land Merryman a football scholarship to Youngstown State University.
Merryman formally signed the D-I paperwork Friday morning at a ceremony at the high school.
The 6-2, 180-pounder has excelled at tight end and defensive end for Coach Mark Holenka, helping the Tigers reach the playoffs every year in his school career, including this year’s 8-4 finish.
What really made Merryman a hot commodity to college recruiters is his performance an integral position that often flies under the radar.
Merryman is an adept long-snapper. So much so, he was listed as a four-star recruit as a snapper and second rated at that position in the Class of 2020.
Merryman’s older brother Johnny, a 2009 Shadyside High grad, was the catalyst to his long-snapping journey.
“I just picked up the ball and started snapping, really,” Merryman said. “I knew that colleges needed them. I looked up to my brother in that regard.
“You never really hear a long snapper’s name,” he said. “That means you’re doing well. I knew I could do it in college.”
Merryman has drawn high praise nationally through his work at the prestigious Rubio Long Snapping Camp. That showcase is led by former UCLA standout and nationally-recognized long-snapping guru Chris Rubio. It attracts hundreds of athletes annually.
“It’s a tough job. You really have to work at it,” Merryman said. “You just want to go through your routine and make sure everything is good.
“Once you snap it, you just get your head up and try to block someone or get downfield,” he continued. “There’s not a whole lot to think about. Trust your technique is what I always say.”
Merryman was a first team all-Mid-Ohio Valley League selection this fall.
“I am extremely excited to being going to Youngstown State and playing Division I football. I cannot wait to start,” Merryman said. “I first went up there for a camp in the summer and they liked what they saw. They brought me up for a visit and I really enjoyed it there. I really felt comfortable there.
“I liked the campus and I liked the team. I really like Coach (Bo) Pelini. He really wants to win,” he added. “I am glad to join a program that is ready to win. The current long snapper is a junior who also plays tight end.”
Youngstown State finished 6-6 this past fall. Pelini is a former Ohio State grid standout and the former head coach at Nebraska.
Merryman will not be the lone former Tiger athlete at Youngstown State. Chase Stewart is a member of the YSU cross country and track teams.
Sam is the son of Randy (Hot Dog) and Deanna Merryman. He plans to major in exercise science.