When you visit Westfield, there are always a lot of prospects to talk about. Of course, I went there to see and talk to star defensive tackle Keondre Coburn, but I also wanted to get some insight into Texas running back signee, Daniel Young.
With Young having been committed to U of H for so long, and UT for such a short time, there wasn’t a whole lot of information regarding him. What we knew was mainly from his Hudl; Young was a bruising, between the tackles runner with solid speed for a power back. We also knew he was a high character kid.
Westfield likes to employ running back by committee, so it’s not like Young was putting up gaudy stats, and the recruiting market seemed to suggest Houston was the perfect home for his ability.
On National Signing Day, the Longhorn commentariat let it be known the new Texas coaches were quite high on Young. That’s to be expected, but the amount of times they mentioned it led me to believe they really meant it. We had heard similar things about Marqez Bimage, himself a former Cougar commit turned Texas signee.
This spring, Young really began to turn heads with his track times. At 6-foot, 210 pounds he broke 11 seconds in the 100 meters, and ran 22.45 in the 200 meters. This isn’t Bo Jackson, but it’s not Bo Diddly, either.
I opined if Young was a credible outside zone runner, he’d feast in college and Texas would have a steal on its hands because we know he can pound the rock inside thanks to good feet, vision, balance and the ability to move piles.
Enough with what we think we know. Let’s hear from Westfield’s head coach, Matt Meekins, the brother of Texas tight ends coach, Corby Meekins.
Coach Matt Meekins: As a freshman, Daniel played running back and linebacker. His freshman year we had three junior running backs that were all pretty good. So he started at linebacker as a sophomore because that’s where we needed him, knowing that when he was a junior he was going to be the running back.
Inside Texas: I remember seeing his junior film. I had him ranked No. 5 — I hate rankings but it’s part of the job — so I was really high on him. I remember he got a Boise State offer early, that’s usually a good early indicator of ability. What did you think about his first year at running back for you guys?
CMM: His junior year, it took him a little while to get acclimated back to running back. That was right after Corby had gone to U of H and even if Corby were still here he was going to be the running back. After about the first practice in pads, he did some things really well. Our defense is really fast but he broke away from them. So I called Corby and said, ‘hey, you probably already know this, but you want to be the first one to pull the trigger.’ They evaluated him and Corby already knew what he could do. I think U of H was his first offer and then they started popping after that. He’s a great kid, hard worker, he’s done football and track here religiously. He’s not missing practices, great in the classroom, the teacher’s love him.
IT: It seems like he got a little faster as he got bigger. At least on the track, his track times improved this year. That tells me he’s working pretty hard and not satisfied.
CMM: We have our offseason program, then we hit our month of supplemental stuff after school is out. So he’d come here and do his workout during the period or whatever we were doing that day, then go to track practice. We keep our weight room open until 5:30, so he’d get back over here from track at 4:45 and he’d do his supplemental workout.
IT: I guess my biggest question about him was his speed to run outside in college. Do you feel like he has the speed to be efficient in that regard?
CMM: I think so. We’re doing a lot of similar stuff that they were doing there, just because they’re there. I think he’s gotten faster, and has more than enough speed to succeed at the next level.
IT: They also like to throw the ball to running backs quite a bit. How are his hands?
CMM: His hands are good. He caught a ball last spring on a rail route and he caught the ball over his shoulder – outside shoulder – like a receiver would. We ran the normal swings; the normal arrow routes, but we’d also wheel him out of the backfield and he can catch it.
IT: Do you think he’s ready to play as a true freshman, if needed?
CMM: I believe so. He’s smart. He’s not just up there finding out who he’s blocking after it all sorts out. He’ll probably know what the line’s doing in front of him and then what he does based off what they do.
IT: Sounds like he won’t have a long way to go mentally, and we know he won’t have a long way to go physically.
CMM: No, he’s 6-foot, 210 pounds or maybe a little heavier, but the thing he does really well is he doesn’t take hits. If someone is coming after his legs he has enough bend to get up underneath them.
With the amount of prolonged and nagging injuries the running back group has suffered in recent years, Young should arrive fresh and ready to go, and from the sound of things, he’ll be ready to compete from day one.