Juwon Young brings edge to Herd practice
HUNTINGTON — By the fourth week of preseason, most college football players are generally sick of going through practice and are already mentally geared toward a game.
Such is not the case for Marshall University defensive end Juwon Young who is making the transition from linebacker.
“Just being on the field gives me a whole enlightenment to my day,” Young said. “If I’m on my way to practice and I know I’m going to be out there running reps and getting on the field for practice, it’s just like a game to me. Seeing me in practice and seeing me in a game, there’s not a difference, for real.”
For Young, there have not been an overabundance of repetitions in the preseason as he worked his way back from offseason ailments. However, the 6-foot-2, 250-pound senior from Albany, Georgia, is back at full speed for the Thundering Herd and trying to get as much work in as possible in preparation for the season opener, that is nine days away on Sept. 1 against Miami (Ohio).
Defensive line teammate Ryan Bee said Young brings a different presence to the edge position that he’s eager to see on the field.
“He’s a guy that’s going to come off the edge and destroy everything,” Bee said. “Just look at him — he’s a tank. I’m excited to see him progress at the end position. He’s played it for a week now, but he’s already insane. He’s had some plays that were just eye-openers. We’re really excited to see him back.”
After sitting out the first four games of the 2017 season, Young made his presence felt in the final nine games, finishing the year with 41 tackles while platooning in what proved to be a crowded Marshall linebacker room.
Following 2017, Marshall lost two of its three platooning defensive ends with the graduation of Blake Keller and Davon Durant, meaning the coaching staff was looking for experienced play makers to fill the void.
When looking at players who could become a force at that hybrid defensive end/linebacker spot on defense, Young was a no-brainer for Marshall head coach Doc Holliday and his defensive staff.
“We all know he can play, and you add him to that mix at defensive end, it provides you with a little more depth, but it also provides you with a player,” Holliday said. “He made plays last year coming off the edge, at times, for us and he’s a bigger guy and, really, a natural guy there. We felt he could go in there and do what we asked him to do.”
For Young, the move was a bit more natural than what many realize.
“I played a Fox position standing up in high school, so it really wasn’t too much of a change from a physical standpoint,” Young said.
Young said the move to defensive end allows him to shift his focus and hone in on using his athleticism to get to the football to make plays.
“Everything is narrowed down,” Young said. “I’ve got one man on key and I’m just doing my job. Everything went from being a linebacker and having it wide-open and having to transition your eyes from run to pass more to things being more compact. Things are really going smooth. I’ve just got to tighten the little things up with steps and other techniques.”
Young said part of the blessing of the move is he has the experience at linebacker, so he knows what the guys behind him need, as well, giving him another edge while playing the edge.
“I’ve seen positions that I’ve been in with other D-linemen or with certain calls, I know how it will look,” Young said. “With me being at D-end, I know how to react to certain movements and I know what a linebacker is thinking when he’s coming down in behind me. I’m going to try to take the stress off of him and we’ll help each other.”