Byron Young: JUCO tryout with ‘Disney movie’ story finds himself with big SEC offers, including UGA

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Former JUCO tryout Byron Young is now one of the better stories of the 2021 recruiting cycle.

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry offers a good first crack at the story of 2021 junior college OLB prospect Byron Young from Georgia Military College in Milledgeville. 

No 2020 season. No Power Five offers heading into October. No stars. No rankings.

No problem.

Junior college OLB prospect Byron Young is deeply thankful for the recent ascent regarding his football career.

“My life has changed a lot since October,” Young said. “I’ve prayed on this. I’m thankful. When COVID-19 came around I was thinking my career was over with a little bit. My season was over with.”

That’s the quick-twitch burst off the line for new Georgia Military College grad Byron Young and an unlikely recruiting story.

If we wind it all the way back, it might start with not having the grades to go big-time out of high school. GMC was an option, but he just didn’t know about junior college football. It didn’t impress him.

When he moved from his native South Carolina to the Columbus area in Georgia, his opinion changed.

His mind changed as he went to work. Not work in the weight room. Or a grind with a speed trainer. This was actual real-life work. Timecards. Stocking shelves.

For about 18 months, Young was an assistant manager at a Dollar General Store.

He is now set to choose between offers from Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee, among others. At this time a month ago, he just had offers from Old Dominion and South Alabama.

“It is just kind of like a Hallmark story or something,” GMC defensive coordinator and interim head coach Rob Manchester said. “Definitely a Disney movie in a way that it has all gone down. You know he’s a little bit older now than most junior college freshmen.”

Young, who will be 23 in March, found his way to GMC off a “flyer.” A literal flyer that advertised an open combine tryout for the GMC football team. He was noticed immediately.

“The first thing we saw was man, this guy can really run at 220 pounds,” Manchester said.

When he sprints and conditioned with his junior college team, he was likely the second or third fastest-man on those Bulldogs. That’s counting the skill guys, too.

Young spent the weekend on a virtual visit with Tennessee. The 6-foot-3.5, 230-pound rising sophomore also took an impromptu self-guided trip to Auburn over the weekend.

“A lot of junior college players out there believe in themselves to the point they know they will get a good offer out of it,” Manchester said. “But not even those guys think about all of this. What he’s going through right now really does not happen. It is like he has got everybody in the country offering him.”

“He was like ‘I never thought I was going to play in the SEC’ and it wasn’t that he thought he was not good enough to play in the SEC. He just never thought this was going to happen. It was not that he didn’t believe in himself. It is just crazy.”

The other amazing thing to note here is the fact he could find a fit. With the pandemic, rosters are going to be scrutinized more than ever. Those free years of eligibility for current players complicate the math with 85 scholarships for football players.

The numbers crunch there is only compounded by the need to make room for the high school players each big-time program will add. It takes a special junior college player to get noticed in this COVID-19 recruiting climate. Much less those who were once employed as an assistant general manager at a dollar store.

“We’re going to miss him,” Manchester said. “He’s disruptive. We’re not going to be able to replace him when we play in the spring.”

Byron Young had a terrific scrimmage this fall for Georgia Military College. JUCOs were allowed 60 practice days and up to the three scrimmages. He piled up multiple sacks and tackles for losses in his only real fall scrimmage action this year. (Courtesy photo from Georgia Military College football)

Byron Young: Practice and scrimmage film > Obstacles

The junior colleges didn’t get a 2020 season this fall. COVID-19 sacked all that, too. It meant he just had a freshman season with seven sacks and 11 stops behind the line to rely on.

“I didn’t have a season and then I blew up,” Young said. “It usually doesn’t work like this. Players usually don’t blow up like this after one season. I’m just grateful.”

It was enough. Along with a few fall practice clips. The junior colleges were allowed to get 60 days of practice his fall and a scrimmage or three.

These fall clips didn’t hurt.

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