Lesson plans to playbooks

Deanna Stevens

Cornerback Usama Young out worked his competition


Credit: Jason Hall

Completing a student teaching requirement is just one of the tasks on senior Usama Young’s to-do list.

In addition to closing in on his degree in health and physical education, Young, a four-year letter winning cornerback at Kent State, has been ‘interviewing’ with over a dozen NFL teams after sparking the league’s interest with a stellar Pro Day performance in March.

Now it looks like this potential teacher has even more potential as an NFL draftee, even though just two months ago, Young did not get invited to the NFL Combine – the league’s pre-draft scouting camp.

But Young’s undeniable talent and extraordinary work ethic have put him on track for a career detour.

“As soon as I heard it was over and they had already picked everybody that was going to be in there, I was disappointed.” Young said about his Combine snub. “But I couldn’t stay disappointed because that wouldn’t have helped me at all.

“So I took it as, it’s time for me to work out, it’s time for me to prove that I should have been there,” Young said.

And Young certainly did prove himself at his individual workout with a 40-yard dash average around 4.40, a broad jump of 10’11” and a vertical jumps of 43 inches.

His performance surpassed the rest of the cornerbacks at the Combine.

“It turned into a positive thing since I had a good work out at the Pro Day,” Young said. “A few teams were there, enough to get a little bit of an opportunity to shine.”

Kent State coach Doug Martin said that Young’s performance put him in a class that the NFL scouts had to notice.

“The measurables he put up in his work out were outstanding,” Martin said. “With his size and his quickness, he’s a guy that can play either corner or safety. So he’s twice as valuable, because he can play multiple positions.”

But Young’s journey toward the NFL started long before he worked out in front league scouts. He’s wanted to play professionally since childhood, when he’d emulate the football stars of the day.

“You’re doing the Deion (Sanders) high-step running into the end zone,” Young said. “You’re trying to shake people. You’re trying to juke people like Barry Sanders, and getting a chance to play at that same level as them, you look forward to it.

“When I was coming up it was always a dream,” Young said about his NFL aspirations. “Slowly, but surely it became a goal.”

And with the NFL draft taking place this weekend, Young’s goal is just days away from being accomplished.

But he has not forgotten about the hard work that got him there. Young, who has been predicted to go as high as the end of the second round, will be spending draft day in the weight room, getting a few more workouts in.

“Since I’ve been traveling (to interview with prospective teams), I haven’t been able to maintain the same work ethic that I had before,” Young said. “Every time I step out there, I’m going hard, but you can’t do it five days a week. So I have to turn Saturday and Sunday into a work day.”

This weekend, Young will find out who his next employer will be.

But, no matter where he ends up, his parents aren’t letting him forget the other items on the list.

“My parents understand that this is a busy thing, but they’re still asking about school,” Young said. “My mom is like ‘Are your grades still high?'”

Contact sports reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].