Prep notebook: Carolina Forest’s Yurachek to play football at Marshall

For The Sun NewsJune 25, 2013 

Two main aspects of the recruiting process sold Ryan Yurachek on Marshall.

First, the Carolina Forest tight end was convinced he would have an opportunity to play right away for a coaching staff that had plenty in common with the rising senior.

Maybe just as important, the school has zero connections with his relatively famous father.

Yurachek, the son of Coastal Carolina Athletics Director Hunter Yurachek, gave the Thundering Herd a verbal commitment last week. He’ll be able to fulfill the process on National Signing Day next February. But one of the Panthers’ top offensive threats is as close to positive as possible he’s locked in on moving to Huntington, W.Va., come next summer.

“I didn’t want people to be under the impression that Ryan Yurachek got that scholarship because his dad is the A.D. there,” Yurachek said. “That’s why I didn’t really ever consider Coastal Carolina. I earned this. I wanted to be my own person.”

Rated as one of the best tight ends in the state, Yurachek has made sure he stood out almost immediately upon moving to the area from Ohio in 2010. As a sophomore, he started for a football team that won seven games. Then, as a junior, Yurachek caught 56 passes for 731 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had 50 punts for an average of 36 yards.

He moved seamlessly into a key role in at forward for the basketball squad before also starting for the Panthers’ baseball team this past spring. Earlier this month, Yurachek was recognized by Diamond Prospects for its 2013 All-Academic team after posting a 4.465 grade-point average during his first three years of high school.

All of that added up to opportunities that had nothing to do with his dad, who accepted the job at CCU after serving as an executive senior athletics director at the University of Akron. Still, Yurachek said he couldn’t have got to last week’s decision without his father.

“My dad helped me out a lot through the process,” Hunter Yurachek said. “He made sure people clarified what they said. We probably had 30-35 coaches come in. Obviously, I’m not getting 30-35 scholarships. But he said ‘Let’s be realistic about it.’ ”

Yurachek had offers from Georgia Southern – which recently announced a move to the Football Bowl Subdivision – and The Citadel. Atlantic Coast Conference schools Clemson and Georgia Tech were also showing significant interest, although neither had offered.

Barring something miraculous happening, though, Yurachek said he’s not looking to boost his stock by committing to a FBS program.

“I’m not that kind of guy who would do that to a coaching staff,” he said. “One of the big things is I know I could go to a Clemson or South Carolina and not be the top guy. I might have to wait, red-shirt a year and then wait until I get to my junior or senior year. Not to sound cocky, but I want to go somewhere and people know who I am. I can fit right in there and play.”

Carolina Forest coach Drew Hummel said he got the same impression from the Thundering Herd coaching staff. While plenty of college programs were all over Yurachek in the past year, few could offer what Marshall did.

“They really use their tight ends well,” Hummel said. “They used them as end-line guys or as a H-back or out wide. That is what he’s been doing with us. Nothing’s given to anybody, but it is wide open for him to come in and contribute immediately.”

Yurachek recently participated in a Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas combine. There, he was measured at just shy of 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds. He also ran a sub-4.8-second 40-yard sprint and bench pressed 185 pounds 23 times.

While some schools have been scared off because Yurachek isn’t 6-foot-5 or taller, Marshall has proven it doesn’t matter. The Thundering Herd averaged 40.9 points per game last season, in part because of 6-foot-2, 240-pound tight end Gator Hoskins.

The then-junior caught 35 passes for 374 yards and a team-leading 10 touchdowns.

Hoskins will finish out his Marshall career this fall, and, if all goes to plan, Yurachek will have a chance to replace him early in his college career.

“He really feels like he’s going to get an opportunity to be a guy and have a major impact in what they’re trying to do,” Hummel said. “His aspirations are to get better and better and continue to play. He knows he’ll have to get showcased at the next level, and he’ll have to play early.”

Carolina Forest hires new offensive coordinator

This weekend, Hummel also announced that his Panthers will have a new offensive coordinator for 2013.

Joe Bernard, who had been the head coach at Stroudsburg (Penn.) the last two seasons, has been officially hired to replace Joe Blackwell. The latter returned to South Carolina State as that school’s offensive coordinator after one year with the Panthers.

Bernard resigned his coaching job at Stroudsburg earlier this spring. His teaching position had already been furloughed as part of statewide budget cuts. According to the Pocono Record newspaper, he had been collecting unemployment and coaching the football team for less than $5,000 annually.

At Carolina Forest, Bernard will teach math in addition to his duties with the football team.

He’ll be joining a Panthers’ roster that is loaded in terms of returning offensive players. Carolina Forest struggled to a 2-9 record in 2012 (later adjusted to 3-9 because of a forfeit); however, the offense showed glimpses of big-time production behind quarterback Will Brunson, tailback Harold Atkinson and a slew of young receivers.

Hummel isn’t concerned with his squad using a third different offensive coordinator in as many seasons.

“We have all of our skill guys back. We lose Harold, but [Napier] Armstrong’s going to be fantastic,” Hummel said. “We have our quarterback back. We have three receivers back. We have three linemen back. We’re not going to tinker too much with that side of the ball.”

Brunson threw for 2,321 yards and 18 touchdowns, while Armstrong – who started a handful of games throughout the season, ran for 582 yards and better than five yards per carry. Yurachek has those 731 yards and seven touchdowns and receiver Kyle Belack added 723 yards and seven scores.

Bernard’s ideas, Hummel said, are in line with those already employed at Carolina Forest.

“The things that he likes to do offensively are already there,” Hummel said. “He just called them a different thing. Our offense is going to look very similar.”

Much like with Blackwell, Carolina Forest’s newest offensive coordinator has previous college coaching experience. Bernard served on the staffs at Pittsburgh, Duquesne and Fairfield prior to coaching at Stroudsburg. He was the was the head coach at Fairfield in 2001-2002 before the school dissolved its football program. Bernard was then named the defensive coordinator at Duquesne, where he spent six seasons.

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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