Young is versatile on and off the field

Deanna Stevens

Cornerback Usama Young was nominated for the 2006 Draddy Trophy. The trophy recognizes one individual as the top combined academic achiever, football performer and community leader in the nation. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

Playing football since he was 8 years old, Kent State cornerback Usama Young has been all over the field.

The Maryland native played middle linebacker and fullback as a child, while concentrating on wide receiver and kick returning in high school.

Now in his last year at Kent State, Young’s versatility has been recognized on and off the gridiron.

Young was a semi-finalist for the Draddy Trophy, which honors community involvement and academic success, along with football performance.

Kent State coach Doug Martin said he, along with the rest of the coaching staff, chose Young to represent Kent State because he is exemplary in all three categories.

The award was established in honor of the former chairman of the National Football Foundation, Vincent DePaul Draddy. Each school can nominate one player, who must be in their last year of football eligibility and have at least a 3.0 GPA.

Young said it’s difficult to choose which aspect of the award would have meant the most, but academics were the one thing to put him in the position in the first place. The senior health and physical education major has a 3.2 GPA.

Being involved in the community is also something Young appreciates being noted for. He said he plans to continue being involved by coaching football and baseball wherever he lives after he leaves Kent State.

“Hopefully when I am coaching I’ll get to do some camps and work with other football players and athletes. I hope to coach other sports and be a positive role model.”

In his fourth year as a starter for the Flashes, Young has 29 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss. He also has an interception, bringing his career total to eight, one shy of making Kent State’s top 10.

However, in the beginning of his career, he was not comfortable with his position.

“When I first started, I relied on people next to me to help me out,” Young said. “Making calls on the field, and just relying on them to know the defense.”

Now Young has taken a role of leader on defense.

“He’s not afraid to speak up,” Martin said. “He’s more vocal and willing to step up now.”

Martin said the rest of the team looks up to Young because of his work ethic.

“The other players respect him,” Martin said. “They see how hard he works in the off season. He’s very accountable.”

Young said it was working hard during the off-season that allowed the Flashes to be in the position they are in now. His team is first in the MAC East Division, and is trying to continue a five-game winning streak.

“At the start of the season, all of us had the most confidence ever because we worked so hard,” Young said. “And hearing from Danny (Muir), and hearing from Najah (Pruden) what the other teams did over the summer, we knew that we worked harder.”

Young has not only developed into a leader, but also into an NFL prospect.

Scouts from teams such as the Indianapolis Colts have been checking out Young’s talents, but he said he is more concerned willy, their opinions while in practice, not in game situations.

“In practice I think about it, because I know I need to be on my p’s and q’s.” Young said. “But at game time I’m not thinking about who’s up in the stands. I’m just trying to play my best.”

Before getting to the next level, Young said he is focusing on the second half of the season and finishing what the Flashes have started.

Kent State will face Ohio to battle for the No.1 position in the MAC East. A win will guarantee sole possession for the Flashes. A loss will end with a tie for first.

But Young said this is not a new position for the Flashes.

“This game is no different than other MAC games that we’ve played,” Young said. “If we would have lost last week, it would have put us in another bad situation. If we would have lost the week before last, it would have put us in a bad situation. Every MAC game is important right now because it’s a toss up. Everybody is competing.”

Coming off their bye week, Young said the Flashes cannot forget how they won those last five game.

“We got to keep doing what we did to get here,” Young said. “We got to keep working hard, and try not to make any mental errors. Just play hard nose, smart football.”

Contact football reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].