Rutgers has been one of the more dismal teams in the NCAA in terms of passing defense. According to the NCAA’s official website, Rutgers ranks 60th in the nation with 2,143 total passing yards allowed this season, allowing an average of 214.3 per game.
That would not be such a concern if it was not for the fact that Rutgers plays within the Big Ten Conference, where passing games are outweighed by powerful rushing attacks and defense. To get beat by Big Ten teams through the air (i.e. Penn State, Wisconsin, etc.) is frankly embarrassing for the Scarlet Knights. In their defense, however, much of the blame goes to a number of injuries the Rutgers’ secondary has accumulated throughout the course of the season.
With injuries to key secondary players like Kiy Hester, K.J. Gray, and Saquan Hampton, Rutgers has had to rely on inexperienced underclassmen to help pick up the slack. Heck, they even moved junior star wide receiver Jawuan Harris over to safety just to fill in the depth, who has actually played very well during his time in the defensive backfield. If Rutgers is going to have any sort of future success, they have to establish a stable amount of depth in every position, including the secondary.
Enter Avery Young.
According to the Philadelphia Tribune, Young was practically born to play football. His father, former NFL player Anthony Young, was a standout defensive back at Temple University and the Indianapolis Colts back in the 1980s. Unfortunately, Anthony suffered a severed vertebra, ending his promising career. Anthony then focused his attention on Avery and his younger brother Aaron, teaching them the values of hard work and dedication, effectively molding them into football players.
A native of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, Young is a dual-threat football player; playing wide receiver and cornerback for his high school team. Last week against Downington East, the 6’1, 195-pounder was a major factor in the Red Raiders’ 27-7 victory. Young recorded a 20-yard touchdown grab on offense, while also notching up a game-ending interception late in the fourth quarter on defense.
Young, like his father, possesses tremendous athletic abilities. On his Hudl game film, Young is the perfect combination of toughness and agile. When lining up pressed against the receiver, Avery has quick hands that allows him to disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage, forcing bad pacing and timing for opposing offenses. He is not afraid to go for the big hits either, especially in the open field. As a tackler, Young is a heat-seeking missile; he will knock the ball carrier to the ground, and will not quit until they are down.
In coverage, Young has good enough speed and height to stay with tall, powerful receivers in man coverage, where he fights for contested balls as hard as anyone else on the field. In zone coverage, Young shows good discipline and fundamentals. While he has shown to do the occasional break down in coverage, it is only to try and make a play on the ball, resulting in a game-saving hit or turnover.
Speaking of turnovers, Young has shown to be a bit of a ball hog at times. He has shown a knack for being able to read the quarterback well enough to anticipate where the ball is going. On his film, against a five-yard slant route, Young was able to read the play fast enough to jump the route, pick the ball off, reverse direction across the field and take the ball back towards the opponent’s 15-yard line. Oh, and he picked it off from midfield.
In short, Young is welcoming addition to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Head coach Chris Ash should consider himself lucky. With such a feeble secondary, Ash will need to rake in a major influx of depth into the safeties and corners. Young is an excellent addition and a good start; expect this year’s recruiting class to feature more secondary players than anything else.
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