Owls DE unstoppable, unflappable

John Youboty has overcome a spinal injury and more.

Posted: August 05, 2012

Before and after every practice, John Youboty bows his head and recites a prayer.

Some of his vicious collisions on the field may be unholy, but the Temple defensive end sticks to his ritual.

"I'm just grateful for another opportunity," Youboty said Saturday after the Owls kicked off training camp. "And I'm trying to take full advantage of it."

The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder is confident that he's doing it in a way that his late mother would be proud of.

As a sophomore at Marshall in spring 2010, Youboty suffered what Thundering Herd doctors labeled a career-ending spinal injury. The nerve in the C3 vertebra was pinched when he was blindsided at practice.

Two years later, the transfer is regarded as one of Temple's best players.

"He might be the second-strongest guy on the defense, but he's also the fastest," Owls defensive line coach Sean Cronin said. "He can really run."

A combination of strength and speed, the 23-year-old makes things tough for offensive linemen from a pass-rush standpoint.

Bench-pressing 405 pounds, Youboty was able to move to defensive tackle last season despite being undersized.

He made seven starts and finished the season with 18 tackles, a sack, two pass breakups, and a fumble recovery.

With a move back outside, expectations are high.

"John is a guy that we are really looking to have a great year here," Temple coach Steve Addazio said. "I think he gives us great versatility. He's a hell of a pass rusher."

His athleticism shouldn't come as a surprise.

The Philadelphia native, who moved to Houston at the age of 5, comes from a football family.

His oldest brother, Ashton, is a cornerback for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Youboty's other brother, Yousif, played wideout at Southwest Minnesota State.

"Football is all I know," he said. "This is all I have been playing since I was 5 years old. It just comes natural for me. I just wake up, eat, and go play football for my daily routine."

That's why Youboty traveled to Maryland and California to get second and third opinions when Marshall wouldn't clear him to play.

The Thundering Herd still wouldn't give the OK after the doctors said he was fine.

So Youboty decided to follow Cronin to North Broad Street when the NCAA allowed him to contact other programs. The former Marshall assistant joined Temple's staff when Addazio was named coach in December 2010.

After being cleared to play last summer, Youboty received a special waiver that made him eligible to play immediately for the Owls.

"We knew he would be a great fit here, because of what he's dealt with his whole life," Cronin said. "He's overcome struggles. He's overcome adversity.

"He's tough. He just moves on. And he just keeps going."

Dealing with the death of his mother, Jeannette, is perhaps the biggest obstacle Youboty had to overcome.

She lost her bout with liver cancer during the first week of his junior year at Klein High School in Texas.

"I know she will be very proud of where I'm at right now, making it to college," said Youboty, who is scheduled to get a history degree in December. "I know she would be proud, not for football stuff, just where I am at as a man."

Contact Keith Pompey

at 215-854-2939

or kpompey@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @pompeysgridlock Read his blog at www.philly.com/OwlsInq

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