On Monday, Michigan State beat out nearly 30 schools who offered running back/athlete Aaron Young scholarships, earning a commitment from the Coatesville (Pa.) senior.
Penn State, Arkansas, Rutgers and Northwestern were his other finalists.
In Young, the Spartans get a third commit in this class, along with Illinois native Anthony Williams and Ohioan Brandon Wright, who can play in the backfield. But each brings something different to the table, and the versatility of Williams and Young were major reasons schools were recruiting both heavily. Young also potentially offers two-way possibilities.
“He is such a versatile running back,” Coatesville head coach Matthew Ortega said. “He is a 200-pound kid who can play wide receiver, play slot, play outside, and as a running back, as good a runner as he is, his hand-eye coordination and running routes is what makes him different.
"Then on the defensive side of the ball, his senior year, we are asking more out of him on defense, too, and he also has glimpses at cornerback. He really could play multiple positions — corner, running back, slot receiver. That’s what makes him different from other kids in the past is how versatile he is and the athleticism to play receiver, running back, etc.”
Young rushed for 1,687 yards and 31 touchdowns as a junior, and added four touchdowns receiving. He has developed into one of the best players in the state and region. Ortega knew he had that potential from the first time he saw him hold a football, even if it was not even on an actual football field.
“We actually moved here to Coatesville in 2008, and Aaron was in the same stage of development as my son, who is a quarterback; they were the same age,” Ortega said. “We were having a cookout. I don’t know how old they were, probably 8 or 9 years old. We had moved in, and I’m the football coach, and his dad is one of my football coaches now, so we became friends when we moved here, and they were playing backyard football and I knew at 9 years old that he was different.
"I saw him play pick-up football in the backyard behind my house and said he will be a Big 33 running back one day.”
To go from a young man with a lot of potential to a student-athlete who is recruited by some of the best athletic and academic institutions in the country is not always a sure bet. In Young’s case, work ethic, attitude, and a strong support system helped him get to where he is today.
“I always start with his dad (Anthony Young), who is in the Temple Hall of Fame and played in the league for the Colts, so he comes from a good pedigree,” Ortega said. “His two older brothers — one is a starting linebacker at Old Dominion, and the other brother is a true freshman starter at corner for Rutgers, so they are a football family, just a throwback-type family and Aaron is no different than the other two brothers. They are film-study guys, team leaders, not only on the field, but also in the classroom.”
Away from football, Ortega believes the Spartans will get a player who will represent the school and program in a positive manner.
“That’s the thing, he’s the same person on and off the field,” he said. “There is a reason why Stanford came after him — it’s what he does in the classroom. He was homecoming king, team captain, that speaks to how he carries himself in school, how he is viewed in school, and is just absolutely an all-around kid. He attacks everything the same from schools to friends, to the team and the football field.”
He is also a kid who understands the foundation of Michigan State’s program under Mark Dantonio, and that was one of the catalysts in his commitment to the Spartans.
“The culture at Michigan State is one of the more old-school, tough guys in college football and being raised on the game of football, he’s a throwback-type guy,” Ortega explained. “With that and him being a three-star guy, he had a lot of schools come after him. But, then again, there are a lot of schools that didn’t go after him. He took that Michigan State model of a kid who is a three-star and has the chip on his shoulder to prove something. They can develop him and mixed in with the blue-collar mentality, it was a natural fit.”
Michigan State now has 18 commitments in their 2019 class.
The 247Sports Composite ranks Young as the No. 11 senior in the state of Pennsylvania and No. 37 running back nationally.
In-state prospects visit for Purdue game
The Spartans are at home on Saturday against Purdue. There is a large group of recruits from inside the state expected.
Among them are Durand’s Evan Egan, a 6-foot-7, 280-pound junior offensive tackle, and Ali Saad, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior defensive end from Dearborn.
A group of visitors from the Flint area is also expected.
Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.