football Edit

The long road for Byron Young finds another curve, out for season opener

Young will have to wait to begin his Tennessee career.
Young will have to wait to begin his Tennessee career.

Arguably Tennessee’s best defensive player in fall camp won’t be on the field Thursday night when the Vols take the field in the 2021 season opener. Sources tell Volquest that Byron Young is not eligible due to a two game stint at a prep school that folded two games into a 2017 season.

By NCAA rule, his eligibility began by playing those two games, but because the prep school folded, Young won't lose that entire season.

Young wasn’t on anyone’s recruiting radar coming out of high school in Hemingway, S.C. That’s why he latched on to a prep school called Gulf Coast Sports Academy in Mobile, Alabama Volquest learned earlier this week. Sources also tell Volquest that Young’s situation has nothing to do with the current and ongoing NCAA investigation.

In the meantime, Tennessee has appealed the situation in an effort to get Young back as soon as possible. Josh Heupel is expected to address the situation after the game.

After the prep school folded, Young found himself out of football and working as the assistant manager for a Dollar General Store in Georgia. That’s when his fortune turned when he saw a flyer advertising tryouts for Georgia Military College.

With his love for the game still intact, Young figured why not? To say that taking that chance has worked out is an understatement.

Young made the team at GMC and after his first year on campus found himself in the incredible position of going from an assistant manager in retail to a Power Five football prospect that picked Tennessee over Auburn.

Considering that Covid got GMC’s season cancelled last fall which prevented coaches from coming to watch him and kept him from taking visits, the whole journey is even more remarkable.

“Honestly my journey was tough with Covid and everything. The past two years I was really uncomfortable. Something my coach always told me was you have to get used to being uncomfortable,” Young said this spring of the mindset that allowed him to power through so much adversity.

“Coming to Tennessee wasn’t too hard because I know what my mission is. I know what I want to accomplish. I’m used to being uncomfortable, coming here (getting adjusted) was kind of easy.”

Young has added some 30-plus pounds since arriving to campus. He has been a load in fall camp showcasing uncanny speed off the edge with a disruptive motor.

"My biggest fear was not being able to maintain weight because I run a lot," Young said In August. "It makes a difference. It makes me go faster. I feel like I'm a faster off the ball, but I'm getting way better with my fatigue."

So Young now waits. He's not going to be comfortable, but that's something he is used to at this point. The road to big-time college football just found one more turn before Young hits a straightaway and can put the foot on the pedal.

"I knew this level would be hard," Young said about his adjustment to playing In the SEC. "I'm just ready for competition. Right after I got out, I knew this is what I wanted to do and why I'm here."