When former Youngstown State linebacker Gianni Rizzo committed to the Penguins program back in 2018, he did so when Bo Pelini was at the helm for the team. But when Pelini was named Defensive Coordinator for the LSU Tigers back in 2020 things changed in terms of Rizzo’s role on the team which ultimately led to him entering the transfer portal.
“When I came out of high school, I committed to Youngstown for Bo Pelini and his staff. They left and Bo Pelini went to LSU to become the defensive coordinator along with the position coach who also ended up there. The new staff here just didn’t sit well with me. I was playing in the spring but I saw a solid decline in playing time in the fall so just the whole staff didn’t sit well with me.”
When Rizzo decided to test the waters of the transfer portal after the end of the 2021 season Duquesne came knocking on the door right away and Rizzo knew that it was where he wanted to transfer to. “Being closer to home was a big thing I am only 20 minutes from the city. The coaches there at Duquesne recruited me in high school and the second I left the team at Youngstown they greeted me with open arms and said they would give me a full scholarship. Coach Gribbin recruited me when he was at Akron but he’s at Duquense now so I have a lot of good ties there so it was a good fit” Rizzo said
He joins a Duquesne squad that has had a ton of recent success in the NEC most recently posting a 7-3 overall record and a 5-2 record in conference play. For Rizzo, he is looking to make an impact in his first season with the Dukes. Rizzo discussed what he brings to the table for this Dukes team. “I am an athletic linebacker I am not your typical A-gap linebacker I’ll cover a wide receiver man to man I’ll cover a slot I’ve played Nickle so just a lot of versatility,” Rizzo said
Rizzo is no stranger to this Duquesne team as he already has some friends on the team from back in high school. He spoke on what he is most excited about next season. “Just being with a lot of my friends from high school I know a lot of the guys there I think we’re gonna make a run at the title in the conference and just be able to get back on track.” Rizzo said.
In eight total games for the Penguins, Rizzo tallied eight assist tackles in two seasons with the team.