LINCOLN — Nebraska’s newest commit for the 2015 recruiting class opts for brevity when asked for his favorite high school football memory.
Dedrick Young, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound athlete from Peoria (Arizona) Centennial High School, picks last month’s Arizona Division II state title game. Why?
“We won,” Young said.
The three-star prospect — who chose the Huskers over Michigan State and Arizona on Monday morning in the briefest announcement ceremony
you’ll ever witness — doesn’t add that he iced that win with a 75-yard touchdown run. That’s just Young’s style off the field, Centennial coach Richard Taylor said. The running back/linebacker talks about himself in a minor key. He plays in a major one.
“He’s a rare combination of humility and confidence, which doesn’t happen very often,” Taylor said. “Usually you have kids who are so humble that they get so shy and can’t do anything, or they’re so confident that they tell you exactly what they’re going to do, how they’re going to do it, and they don’t do crap.”
Talk softly, but use a nasty stiff arm, right? First-team all-state last year, according to the Arizona Republic, Young is again a favorite for those honors after rushing for 1,529 yards and 19 touchdowns on offense and logging 98 tackles — including seven for loss — as a linebacker. At Young’s press conference, Taylor said Young had accounted for more than 4,400 yards of offense and 55 touchdowns during his high school career and finished as the second-leading tackler in school history.
Better yet, Taylor said, Young did whatever asked. He’ll enroll early to NU and start his career as an outside linebacker — Young said new Husker defensive coach Mark Banker expects to retain the 4-3 alignment used by former head coach Bo Pelini — but Taylor said Nebraska can just point Young to a role, and he’ll fill it.
“There were games he ran the ball 30 times because we needed him to run it 30 times to win, and then there were games we really needed him on defense and he ran the ball five times,” Taylor said. “And he never once said, ‘Hey, how come I’m not getting the ball?’ He’s just not that kind of guy.”
For example: Young took his official visit to Nebraska in September and loved it. Young recalled thinking the environment — the Tunnel Walk, the fans — “felt like home.” He never took another official visit after that and more or less committed to the Huskers and Pelini. He just didn’t make a big deal out of it.
Then, not 12 hours after Young broke that long run and Centennial won the state title, Pelini was fired. So Young entertained more suitors like the Wildcats and Spartans. Taylor said Michigan State brought coaches three days last week to woo Young away from Nebraska. But Young was familiar with new coach Mike Riley. New defensive coach Trent Bray, expected to coach linebackers, made an in-home visit with Young, who chose to stick with the Huskers.
Nebraska will get an athlete versatile enough to be recruited as a linebacker by Arizona and Michigan State and a running back by UCLA and Colorado. He had offers from Arizona State, Oregon State, Utah and Washington, among other schools. Young said it was “fifty-fifty” on which position schools preferred to see him play.
“It doesn’t matter to me, as long as I’m playing,” Young said.
Said Taylor: “With Dedrick, you’re going to tell him where to play and he’ll do exactly what you ask.”
All four major scouting services — 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals and Scout — tabbed Young as a three-star prospect; only Scout has Young as a linebacker prospect. Young attended a Nike Football Tour camp in the last year and scored well in the “Sparq” rating, which is adjusted for a player’s size and position. With a 4.58-second 40-yard dash and a 32-inch vertical, among other marks, Young scored 111.99, which was 100th best nationwide. Taylor said Young is the strongest player in school history, combining for 1,350 pounds on his bench, squat and power clean lifts.
“Because of his strength, he makes everything look pretty easy,” Taylor said.
Perhaps that’s why Taylor wasn’t too concerned when Centennial’s 20-0 lead in the state title game had been cut to 20-14 in the second half. Instead of panicking, he reminded himself of a key fact.
“I chanted to myself, ‘We have Dedrick Young,’ ” Taylor said. Minutes later, Young broke the 75-yarder.
“He’s a pleasure to coach. He’s a pleasure to be around,” Taylor said.
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