MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As a west coast kid, Scottie Young was in for a shock when he came to West Virginia.
He grew up in San Diego, Calif., played three seasons of college football for Arizona in the Pac-12, and all the while never lived through a brutal Appalachian winter.
Until about nine months ago.
“I don’t like that cold,” Young said. “It’s too cold.”
Young said he doesn’t mind playing football in cold weather, he just doesn’t like “chilling” in it — a unique choice of words for a kid who came to Morgantown without a winter coat.
“I came out here, I had no jackets. I think I had one hoodie,” Young said. “I used to freeze my butt off during the winter.”
And unlike some of his teammates who hail from West Virginia or a nearby state, Young would now need a cross-country flight to get home and visit his family — as well as enjoy some warmer temperatures. That’s not something he’s concerned about, though.
In a sense, he came to WVU to take care of business.
“I wanna really put my all into it,” Young said. “I don’t really have no business going home too often. I’m in college, so I gotta get to what I’m trying to get to.”
Last season, Young took a business-like approach to a situation that wasn’t exactly ideal.
After transferring from Arizona to WVU, Young was forced to sit out and redshirt during the regular season, before receiving a waiver in time to make his Mountaineer debut in the Liberty Bowl. In the meantime, he watched his Arizona teammate Tony Fields anchor the Mountaineer defense as a graduate transfer. Fields was later drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the spring after leading the roster in total tackles.
That blueprint worked for Fields, a talented linebacker with great football instincts. Young, though, thinks the different game plan that was forced on him still worked out in the end.
“I think I needed that year off just to honestly get that development,” Young said of his redshirt season last fall. “I feel like I never really had the time to get that. I came in and played as a true freshman at [Arizona], and then I was always going, so I didn’t really get the time to come down and just really train.”
Like Fields, Young was a three-year starter for the Wildcats. He was thrown into the starting lineup as soon as he stepped on campus, ranking sixth on the team in tackles his freshman year. In his junior season in 2019, he was Arizona’s third-leading tackler, amassing more than 150 total stops in his three seasons with the program.
Young showed growth in his stint with the Wildcats, but he knew there was even more room for development. That’s where Mike Joseph, WVU’s head coach for strength and conditioning, could help.
Young spent the bulk of the 2020 season working out in WVU’s developmental program, a training regiment built for newcomers who need to get stronger and faster before they’re ready to see the field. Young’s eligibility status forced him into that program, but he approached it “the right way,” and he’s already seeing the benefits.
“I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in, ever, since I’ve been in college,” Young said.
That ought to lead to a big pay off on the field for the Mountaineers this fall, just like it did for safety Alonzo Addae, who spent his redshirt season in 2019 in the developmental program before earning All-Big 12 laurels the following year.
“I think he found his voice, and he really found kind of a group,” head coach Neal Brown said. “It’s hard. He transferred here right as camp was starting. He knew he had to sit out, so he wasn’t traveling, he wasn’t necessarily in the mix as far as playing, so that gave him a group and something to belong to that really helped him, I think, mentally and physically.”
When Young joined the Mountaineers, he had to press the reset button. That’s advice he has shared with the program’s latest batch of incoming transfers, like fellow defensive back Charles Woods.
But now that he has had a full year to reboot, he’ll have to fill an important role in a defensive secondary that Brown said lacks game-tested depth.
Sure, Young has only competed in one game at WVU, but he’s already tackling that leadership responsibility.
“I just come in here every day and put my head down and work, showing the young guys that when you come in here and work, you can get whatever you want,” Young said. “You gotta have that mentality.”