It’s been nearly two months since the NFL Draft. With the draft over, the NFL season is kicking off in just a few months from now. It’s a good time to flash back to YSU Penguins in the pros. We look at the past and see what Penguins had opportunities to shine at the next level.
YSU Penguins In The Pros
The first player to look at here is Cliff Stoudt the YSU quarterback from 1973-1976. During his time at YSU he led the Penguins to their first playoff appearance during his sophomore season in 1974 against the Delaware Blue Hens where they lost 35 to 14. In his junior season, he had 1,022 passing yards, 406 rushing yards. He finished his campaign at YSU with 4,387 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Penguin’s Hall Of Fame in 1987.
Stoudt would be drafted with the 121st pick in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He would be a third string and then backup for most of his time there to Terry Bradshaw. He made history during that time too as being active on the roster for 56 games without getting in once. In 1980, he would get his opportunity to shine against the Cleveland Browns. The team is just over an hour from Youngstown State. Stoudt’s Steelers lost that game 27-26. He completed 66.3% of his passes with an interception.
But there was more to prove as he would become the starter during the 1983 season. He replaced Bradshaw in his final season, who was struggling with an injured arm. Stoudt threw for 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions that season with the Steelers, finishing with a record of 10-6, losing to the Los Angeles Raiders 38-10.
Many thought that Stoudt would stay, even with a below average touchdown to interception ratio. However, he would leave for the USFL in 1984. He started every game rushing for 400 yards, 3,121 passing yards, and a total of 35 touchdowns (26 passing, nine rushing). He finished the USFL with 6,479 yards, 60 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. After that, he tried to make a comeback in the NFL with the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals, Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys, but to no avail. He finished his NFL career with 23 touchdowns and 43 interceptions.
One of the biggest quarterback names to come out of Youngstown State and the most successful is Ron “Jaws’ ‘ Jaworski who played for the Penguins from 1969 to 1972. Under legendary coach Dike Beede, he ranked first in pass completions in a season with 139. He also was first with 2123 passing yards in a season, most touchdowns in a single game with four and fifth in passing yardage in a season with 1,411.
Jaworski finished third all time in total offense. He led the Penguins back to success after a dismal 1970 season which saw YSU finish with a record of 0-9. The Penguins would go 4-4 and one in Jaws’ last season before he declared for the NFL Draft.
Jaworski’s NFL Career
The NFL career for Jaworski started slow even though he was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams. Despite playing well in the Divisional Playoff round against the St. Louis Cardinals, leading the Rams to a 35-23 victory, he was not still named starter even after leading them to the NFC Championship Game. The next week after James Harris was benched, Jaworski was put back in, but the Rams lost 37-7 with him throwing two interceptions and being sacked five times.
After the 1976 season, he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles where his career took off. The Eagles made it to the 1978 playoffs under the combination of Jaworski and head coach Dick Vermeil as they would make the playoffs, but fell short after blowing a 13 to 0 lead to the Atlanta Falcons. Jaworski then led the Eagles to a 12 and four record in 1980 but lost to the Oakland Raiders 27-10.
Jaworski’s Later Struggles And Retirement
However, the last couple of seasons were shaky and after the season opener in 1985, Jaworski would be benched by then rookie Randall Cunningham. His last highlight as an Eagle was when he was named NFC Offensive Player of The Week in week seven after a 16-14 win against rival Dallas Cowboys.
That was the last time Jaworski would put on a performance for the Eagles. He was later released, finishing his career in Philadelphia with 69 wins, 67 losses and a tie. The final teams he would play for were the Miami Dolphins during the 1987-88 season and the Kansas City Chiefs in 1989. He finished his career with 2,187 completions on 4,117 attempts for 28,190 yards, 179 touchdowns, and 164 interceptions. Jaworski holds the mark for the longest touchdown pass of 99 yards. He was also a pro bowler in 1980 and was inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame.
He has spent his retired career as a maker in NFL Films, and a game broadcaster on ESPN, and on radio.
The last older player from the 20th to early 21st century era to look at is former Penguin Tim Johnson. He was originally from the Alabama area, transferred to Youngstown State in 1999 where he already looked like a pro.
In just two seasons at YSU, Johnson had 401 total tackles in the 27 games he played. One of his biggest moments came in the Division 1-AA (FCS) semifinals against Florida A&M where his fourth quarter interception gave the Penguins the momentum to come from behind to win 27-24.
Johnson was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award which honored the FCS top defensive player. Following that he was also First and Second Team All-America honors, accolades from the Associated Press and the AFCA.
Johnson’s NFL Career
After not being selected by anyone during the 2001 NFL Draft, Johnson would sign with the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears as a practice squad member before playing for the Rhein Fire in that 2002 season.
After the stint in NFL Europe, Johnson signed with the Oakland Raiders. He first went to the practice squad, and then to the active roster. On January 13th Johnson was named Special Teams player of the week and made a big play during Super Bowl XXXVI (37) where he blocked a Tampa Bay punt which returned for a touchdown.
Johnson’s final years in the NFL saw him with the Baltimore Ravens being alongside teammates like Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis and Ed Reed. In 2009, Johnson signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL, helping lead them to the Grey Cup Playoff semifinals.
His final career stats saw him play in 55 games, and had 114 tackles. His best performance being against AFC North Rival Pittsburgh Steelers where he had 11 stops. Tim Johnson ended up working in football camps since his retirement. Plus, Director of Player Personnel for YSU.