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Returning Player Refresher: Perry Young

The hybrid linebacker is going to be a big part of the new defensive scheme.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Perry Young can thank Mike Tyson for his new job. Tyson came to the Cincinnati Bearcats as a four-star prospect and a talented safety. Over the course of three seasons with the Bearcats, he grew to become a versatile defender who could not be pigeonholed into a singular role or position, shifting between linebacker and safety, especially last season.

What does that have to do with Young? Everything. A growing trend to have shape-shifting defenders who can play different schemes (zone or man) and at different posts (safety or linebacker) has spread to UC and Tyson was the team’s most successful contributor to follow that trajectory. Young is hoping to be the next one. A three-star recruit and the No. 152 safety in the 2016 recruiting class, Young came to UC to play in the secondary. The 5’10, 215-pound Alabama native didn’t just do that as a freshman and now he’s actually listed as a linebacker on the roster.

Playing such a versatile role was not just because Young has the build to do it. He also has the skill set and he showed that off, proving to be a bright spot of hope for a program stuck in the doldrums of a disastrous campaign. Young finished tied for seventh on the team in total tackles (42) and fifth in solo efforts (24). He also recorded 1.5 tackles for loss and maintained his ability to interrupt the passing game with a pass deflection and several other strong plays in coverage.

As we discussed yesterday when we were checking in with Jaylyin Minor, the Bearcats do not have much depth of experience at linebacker. Minor is the only senior at the position. Young is the only non-freshman, even if a few of the other guys are of the redshirt variety. New defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman will focus on the linebackers this summer and throughout the year, and Young should benefit from such concentration by the coaching staff.

What this all means is not only is Young taking on a newish role compared to his high school days, he is also being thrust into a leadership position before he even starts his second year at the college level. Based on the poise and production he demonstrated as a freshman, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.