LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — It would be easy for Lehigh Acres (Fla.) Lehigh running back Richard Young to have an inflated ego. The consensus number one running back in the 2023 recruiting class is a priority target for the likes of Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, Kirby Smart, Lincoln Riley, and Ryan Day before his junior season even kicks off.
Young looks like he came straight out of the build-a-running-back workshop. At 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, with tremendous strength, agility, and burst, he is a prototype bell cow running back. There is no scheme he doesn’t fit and there is no college coaching staff in America that wouldn’t take his commitment if he called up today.
“Physically, he’s just a kid blessed with all of the natural abilities with his size and strength,” Lehigh head coach James Chaney told BuckeyeScoop.com recently on our visit to the school. “He’s in that one-percentile that God doesn’t make very many of.”
But inside that prototype physical build, is a prototype human being. The five-star talent is guarded, almost shy, and would generally prefer to not talk about his abilities, on-field exploits, or his recruiting process. Off the field, Richard Young is about as low key as a teenager could get, especially one in his position as one of the most sought after high school football prospects in America.
“Man, I’m honestly really boring,” Young said. “I just chill. I like to spend time with my family, lift weights, go to the pool. Sometimes I like to jet ski.”
Jet skiing is about as exciting as Young gets. Really, he just likes to put his head down and work hard at whatever it is that he is passionate about.
“He’s blessed in the physical aspect but I think the greatest asset or trait that he has, is that he cares,” Chaney said of his star back. “He cares about his family, his brothers. He cares about his teammates, a lot of whom may never play college football. He cares about them and he’s an ambassador for them. He’s went to camps with them to make sure they get on the radar. He’s just a very caring person, very kind.”
Kind, generous, and thoughtful off the field, but a warrior on it.
“The kid has the heart of a lion,” Chaney continued. “He wants to get better, he wants to be great. He knows he hasn’t arrived and that he has a lot to learn about being a running back. He wants to learn every secret that he needs to learn about playing that position.”
Chaney knew right away that he had something special in Young between the lines. He made plays as a high school freshman that made it obvious where this thing was going to go.
“His freshman year we played against Booker T. Washington in Miami, a powerhouse program,” Chaney recalled. “We only scored one touchdown and it was on a Richard Young kickoff return. So we’ve got this 15-year old returning kicks against this national powerhouse and he gets the ball, reverses field, makes one or two people miss, and then outruns people to the end zone. That’s when I knew.”
Young’s ability to be laser-focused on the most important things in life during a time in his life when most people are at their most immature is just another piece of the puzzle that reminds Chaney that he is coaching a special young man.
“It takes a while for men to really understand (the world),” Chaney said. “We turn into different creatures as we get older. From the club, cars, women to ‘man it’s a beautiful day’. When I was 20 years old, I would have never said, ‘god, it’s a beautiful day’. Now as a 50-year old, I do. So, again, he’s in that one-percentile where he’s just like, ‘man, I love being around my uncle, my mom, my sister, my brothers.’ He loves being around his teammates, at the pool, lifting weights, running in the sand pit. Those are the things he likes. He may get flack for it one day, but I think it’s part of what makes him great.”
“He doesn’t need any fanfare at all. He’s had attention since he was in youth football. The kid just has a solid, ironclad vision and puts the blinders on and goes at it one-thousand percent. We don’t have to worry about him getting in trouble and doing some of those things that sometimes normal teenagers do. He’s just in that one-percentile that’s just driven and approaches things differently.”
Whether he likes it or not, the fanfare and attention isn’t going away, it’s only going to get more intense. But if the last couple of years are any indication, Richard Young is going to handle all of that just fine.