It took a while for the Bryant football coaches to decide where Brenden Young fit best. The one thing they realized right away was that such an athletic player — good size and sprinter’s speed — needed to be on the field somewhere.
He’d played linebacker and running back as a freshman and was tried at those spots as well as the secondary once he got to the high school. As a sophomore in 2012, working at linebacker and in the secondary as well as on special teams, he got in on 25 tackles. As a junior in 2013, he rushed for 399 yards on 81 carries and caught five passes for 20 yards despite injuries that limited his playing time.
Finally, as a senior, he settled in at safety and became a standout, earning all-State honors as the team’s leader in tackles with 88 including five on special teams with six pass break-ups and an interception. He provided one of the defensive highlights of the season when he applied a crushing tackle on a Greenwood player that forced a fumble that was a key moment early in that Hornets’ victory.
Colleges took notice and, on Wednesday, Feb. 4, Young, the son of Chavelia and Gibion Young, signed a national letter of intent to continue his career and education at Ouachita Baptist University.
“Tremendous speed, tremendous strength, great character — he’s a perfect fit at OBU,” stated Hornets coach Paul Calley. “I know he’ll help on special teams year one. The rest of it is up to him. But he has that potential, the capability to do it.
“I’ve been very close with their coaching staff over the years,” he added. “Coach (Lance) Parker (Bryant’s offensive coordinator), of course, played there. (Former Hornet running back) Chris Rycraw was a two-time all-Great America Conference selection there.
“They came off an undefeated regular season this year and lost in the second round of the Division II playoffs to a national powerhouse,” the coach mentioned. “They anticipate Brenden helping them get to the third round next year. They feel like he can come in and help right away. We’re proud of him and wish him the best.”
“Henderson and Harding also offered me,” Young said. “At one point, I was thinking about walking on at Arkansas, something like that. And SEMO, Southeast Missouri, they were in contact with me for a little bit but, at the end of the day, it came down to OBU.”
He indicated that it just came together about a month ago after some early interest last summer.
“Coach (Jay) Derby actually contacted me first,” Young related, referring to the Tigers’ offensive coordinator. “He just told me they were interested in me and they invited me to a camp that I actually wasn’t able to make it to.
“Then they ended up offering me back in January,” he continued. “It’d been a long time since we talked so it kind of surprised me. I went down on a visit and I really enjoyed it. I liked the players. They had me come down to a practice over the Christmas break and I enjoyed that.
“The visit really made the difference. How the players treated me. How the coaches treated me. And the other big thing is, the other kids they have coming in. They have a bunch of good kids that I like coming in. I know just about all of them. So I’m going to be around people I know.”
Young acknowledged that he was told he’d get a chance to help out right away.
“I know they just got the coach from A-Tech, Coach (Paige) Anders,” he said. “They’re going to switch to a 4-2-5. They say it’s kind of similar to what they used to run. It’s where they have three or four safeties on the field at one time. They expect me to play right off the bat.”