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What does Craig Young bring to Ohio State

The Indianapolis athlete doesn’t yet have a position, but could make an impact all over the field.

Craig Young
Steve Helwagen - 247Sports

One of the most impressive and intriguing prospects in the country is officially a Buckeye commit. After getting the green light to commit from Urban Meyer and Alex Grinch at Ohio State’s recruit camp on Tuesday, Craig Young wasted no time, and committed to the Buckeyes today.

Young’s recruitment is an odd one. Originally thought of as a wide receiver, it didn’t look like there’d be a spot for him in Ohio State’s class—for a long time—up until his camp performance. With guys like Jameson Williams, Marcus Washington, David Bell, Trey Knox and Elijah Higgins all looking like possible receiver commits in this class, and Garrett Wilson already committed, a project at receiver like Young didn’t seem likely.

While he may not have a space at receiver, he has one on the defensive side of the ball, and it was his defensive performance that got him that green light. At this point, there’s no telling where Young will end up on the field at Ohio State. He’d make sense at quite a few positions, and it really is just up to where Ohio State thinks he’ll excel. While we don’t know exactly where he’ll see playing time yet, let’s take a look at the skills Craig Young brings to Columbus.

On the field

Craig Young is, first and foremost, an outstanding athlete. He ran a 10.58 second 100-meter dash, and has an incredibly rare combination of size and speed. At 6-foot-4, 212 pounds, Young has a natural defender’s frame, and the potential to add muscle mass while not losing a ton of speed is a big reason that Ohio State likes Young so much.

There’s not a ton that can be taken from his Hudl tape. It almost exclusively focuses on Young’s play at receiver, which is where he’s spent most of his time in high school. However, with the plan to play defense at Ohio State set, I expect we’ll see Young shift his focus to defense in his senior season.

Because there isn’t film of him playing defense, it’s hard to determine exactly how refined or skilled he is on that side of the ball. What does show up on his film is his elite speed, quickness, great hands, and the kind of aggressiveness that you need an elite defender to have. He exudes confidence, and plays with the kind of body control that some players never develop. He’s strong, and has a ton of physical traits that will carry over to the other side of the ball.

Young will likely end up at either linebacker or safety in Columbus. He’d make a lot of sense in the Darron Lee mold of a speed rusher at outside linebacker, and it wouldn’t be difficult for him to play comfortably at roughly 230 pounds like Lee did. Another converted athlete turned linebacker, Malik Harrison, plays at around 240. If Ohio State wants Young in this spot, he’ll likely lose a little speed when he bulks up, but he has the athleticism and versatility to make this work.

Safety makes more sense if Ohio State is happy with his current size. The tallest safety on the team right now is Brendon White, at 6-foot-2, and Young would make a ton of sense in the “Legion of Boom”, Kam Chancellor mold of tall, athletic, rangy safeties that Ohio State has found success in before, with guys like Malik Hooker. His coverage skills will need worked on, but Alex Grinch is very good at his job, and the foundation is there for safety to be an ideal fit for Young.

In the class

Young in the 11th member of Ohio State’s 2019 class. He joins Ronnie Hickman, Cade Stover, Bryson Shaw and, potentially, Steele Chambers in the defensive back seven. No matter where Young ends up, he fills a spot that isn’t occupied by any other current Buckeye commits. If he lands at linebacker, he’s faster and more athletic than Stover. If he lands at safety, he’s a better free safety, center field type than Shaw or Hickman.

If Young is a safety, which i’m inclined to think right now, he’s likely one of the last safeties in this class. Ohio State wants three or four in this class, and with Shaw and Ronnie Hickman already in, and Young now joining them, they’ll likely only look to add one more. That could be Jordan Battle, and it may be as soon as next week at Friday Night Lights, when he visits campus.

Young committed to Ohio State over eight other reported offers, from Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin, among others. He’d taken several visits to each of the major in-state schools (Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame), as well as Wisconsin. The primary opposition for Ohio State here was Purdue, but despite some social media rumors, if Ohio State gave the green light, Purdue didn’t have much of a chance.

Had Ohio State not extended a committable offer, Young likely ends up at Purdue. As soon as his offer became committable, this recruitment was over. Craig Young is a Buckeye, and he’ll likely make it official during the early signing period. By the time he signs, I’ll be shocked if he hasn’t picked up a fourth recruiting star, and moved significantly up the recruiting rankings. He’s far more talented than the No. 538 ranking he has currently.