A bigger role for Rutgers' Young

The tailback from West Deptford brings explosive speed to the Scarlet Knights' offense.

Posted: March 30, 2007

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The play is called a slip-screen, and the Rutgers football team spent the extra time it had to prepare for third-ranked Louisville in case matters became a little desperate.

The play was designed for Kordell Young and, sure enough, it was a desperate time as Louisville pulled out to a 25-7 lead with halftime nearing in the most meaningful game in Rutgers' history.

"When I got into the game, I realized the team was down and we needed something to bring us back," Young, a tailback from West Deptford High, recalled the other day after the Scarlet Knights had completed their first spring practice in pads. "I knew I had to make that play, because Coach said we've got to make this play. I'd just come in the game, my first play. We needed some hope. It was a time of need."

It didn't take long for Young to take the pass from quarterback Mike Teel and race 39 yards to set up a TD run by Ray Rice that ultimately propelled Rutgers to its memorable 28-25 win over Louisville on Nov. 9.

It didn't take long because the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Young, who will be a sophomore in the fall, has uncommon speed, the kind of speed that has coach Greg Schiano and his offensive staff devising ways to get Young on the field more frequently next football season, one the Scarlet Knights should begin ranked among the top 15 teams in the nation.

It's testament to Young's ability that Rutgers wants him to become more involved because Rice, who carried the ball an amazing 335 times for 1,794 yards, returns as a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender. And the competition for playing time may become more intense when incoming freshman Mason Robinson of Somerville, widely regarded as the top high school running back in New Jersey, shows up in the fall.

But Schiano, who called Young's running "electric," said he could easily envision Rice and Young on the field at the same time.

"I think that can be a bigger part of our offense, sure," Schiano said. "You'd have two really dangerous players in there at the same time."

Young said that he and Rice were close friends, and that he has complete faith the staff would find ways to take advantage of his speed. Last season, he had 29 carries, three of which went for TDs on pitchouts in which he turned the corner so quickly the defenders never had a chance.

"I think we'll find ways to put the best players on the field for the best situations," Young said. "Our coaches are really good at doing that. If I'm in, I'm in. If I'm not, I'm not. Whatever's best for the team."

Young is another example of how alluring Rutgers has become for South Jersey's top high school prospects. He originally committed to Virginia but changed his mind after an unofficial visit to Rutgers.

"There's enough talent in New Jersey to make us national contenders," he said. "We just had to stop players from leaving, and Coach Schiano is doing just that."

The hard part was telling Virginia coach Al Groh he'd changed his mind because he had developed such a strong relationship with him.

Not surprisingly, Groh seemed stunned when Young told him he preferred Rutgers.

"He said, 'Rutgers? They lose to teams like New Hampshire,' " Young said with a smile. "I said, 'We'll see.' I had a hard time letting Virginia go. But Rutgers felt like family to me."

At West Deptford, Young set career school records with 4,597 yards and 63 TDs, and averaged 10.8 yards a carry. He ran for 339 yards and four TDs on 17 carries in a game against Burlington Township. "I had no idea how many yards or TDs I had," he said. "I just kept running." He was rated the seventh best all-purpose back in the country by Rivals.com.

Young said he was among the bigger kids in peewee football, which is why he was an offensive lineman through sixth grade, until one of his coaches realized he could outrun just about everyone else. It's the kind of speed that turned around the Louisville game and has his coaches scheming to make more use of it.


Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo

at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.

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