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Versatility, coachable attitude made Craig Young coveted target for Ohio State

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Craig Young impressed Urban Meyer in camp by playing all over the field. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football Recruiting

Versatility, coachable attitude made Craig Young coveted target for Ohio State

COLUMBUS — Clearly Ohio State was giving Craig Young a test.

Maybe it was just an experiment to see which position truly fit the versatile 3-star athlete from Fort Wayne, Ind., best as he worked out for the Buckeyes. Perhaps it was a mental exercise to see what all Young could handle as he was repeatedly thrown different challenges as he shuffled around to drills with four different groups on the field. Weighing a possible decision about making him a part of the 2019 recruiting class, Urban Meyer and his assistants may have just wanted to see how he handled coaching under unique circumstances.

No matter what the exact motivation was, it was every bit as obvious when his dynamic camp performance was over on Tuesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center that Young had passed. He may not have publicly made a commitment known to the Buckeyes until Friday, but the smile was impossible to hide as he chatted with the defensive coaches who had put him through all those various drills one last time on the way of the facility.

“Hey, for real, I thought I was just going to play safety,” Young said. “I thought I was just going to work out as a [defensive back] and safety, but Coach Meyer came over and pulled me over and said, ‘Come here, I want you to go work on this.’

“Defensive end, linebacker, it was all fun. I liked it.”

Throw in some reps as a wide receiver and Young left no doubt that his athleticism also comes with no shortage of flexibility.

His recruiting profiles largely identify him on the offensive side of the ball, but the Buckeyes appear to have other ideas for a player who weighed in 212 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame — and he’s certainly not going to get any smaller. Young might have already outgrown the secondary and is likely heading for the front seven, though it remains to be seen whether a spot at outside linebacker or defensive end will eventually be the best spot for him with Ohio State.

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Craig Young is willing to play any position needed at Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

There is obviously still plenty of time for the Buckeyes and Young to sort all that out. But the coaching staff quickly learned it won’t have to worry about any pushback from Young about where he lines up, which is a big reason why he was offered a spot in another highly-ranked recruiting class.

“I hear that [position] question a lot,” Young said. “My high school coach really thinks I’m good off the edge, outside linebacker. Others say I’m good at safety or defensive back, but for me, I really don’t know right now.

“[Versatility] helps me a lot, because all the coaches look over me, but they don’t know what position I should play. If I can play a lot of positions, that really helps. I think Ohio State probably knows what position I should play, but they haven’t told me.”

Odds are, that’s not so much Ohio State protecting a secret as it is simply leaving options open with Young depending on how he develops physically.

It’s also possible that his spot when he arrives could be dictated by how the rest of the recruiting class shakes out, making Young’s ability to line up all over the field valuable in putting together the roster even before he’s officially part of it.

Just about the only safe bets at this point: Young is going to be a defender, and he aced every pop quiz the Buckeyes gave him on Tuesday.

“I’m just going to keep getting bigger,” Young said with a smile. “So, it looks like the defensive side of the ball, probably. I got back a lot of [feedback], and they told me what I needed to work on, they told me what they liked. They just kept it real with me and they didn’t sugarcoat anything.

“They saw me really on the defensive side, and that was fun because the defensive side really came naturally to me. … Anything to help my school, anything to help my team win, that’s the main priority.”

After acing the on-field test, consider his mindset extra credit for Young as he earned himself a spot at Ohio State.

Austin Ward

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.