Two-Sport Youngblood

In his weekly column, Dudley E. Dawson writes about Camden Fairview 2008 prospect Jim Youngblood (6-3, 212, 4.69), who is being recruited by both the University of Arkansas baseball and football programs. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event on the Arkansas Toyota Dealers website. Click on a banner for details.




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When you've got a 95 miles per hour fastball and you can also direct the spread offense and hit wide receivers in stride, you've got a very bright future.

Such is the case for Camden Fairview junior two-sport star Jim Youngblood , a 2008 prospect who is a star pitcher and quarterback for the Cardinals and someone who plans to compete on both the diamond and the gridiron while in college.

Youngblood (6-3, 212, 4.69), who is being recruited by the University of Arkansas in both sports, was one of the headline performers Saturday morning in Bryant at the FCA Combine, which had about 120 of the state's best 2008 prospects participating.

"It's going to be both football and baseball for me," Youngblood said on Saturday. "I have asked the colleges I have talked to ‘if I come up there am I going to be able to play football and baseball at the same time?' That's my top priority right now."

It was just going to be a baseball career before Youngblood led the football Cardinals to an11-1 season with an all-state performance.

He ended up passing for 2,022 yards and 18 touchdowns, completing 59 percent of his passes with only six interceptions and also rushed for 820 yards and 11 more scores.

Youngblood is one of at least three Division I prospects at Camden Fairview along with tailback DeAnthony Curtis (5-9, 200, 4.41) and defensive end LaVunce Askew (6-1, 255), all players that Arkansas is recruiting and who came to Razorback games this past season.

"My arm strength is probably my top asset," Youngblood said. "I think I need to work on my speed and my agility. But it's the guys around me that make me what I am. We have got some athletes and linemen who are just great players and they make me look good."

This was his first full season of action as the starting quarterback after being inserted into the line-up in the last five games of his sophomore season.

"It really opened a lot of doors for me," Youngblood said. "Up until this year, I had my mind set I was playing college baseball although if I got drafted (in the Major League Baseball draft)I was gone straight out of high school. But after what we did this year and the result the team had, colleges started sending me letters and now I have some choices to make."

Right now there are three main schools on his list with Arkansas – a school that was in the headlines a lot last week – on top.

It was a very exciting week up there, huh?" Youngblood said. "They are tops on my list right now. I would say my three top schools are Arkansas, Auburn and (Texas) A&M. I would say that are all right there."

In fact, it is being an Arkansas baseball player that Youngblood has had on his mind for a long time and Razorback assistant Todd Butler has helped his program in that regard.

"I have gotten real close with Coach Butler up there," Youngblood said. "He has helped me out a lot. Arkansas baseball is what I have wanted to do since I was a little kid."

Of course, the Razorback baseball squad may have to fend off the pros because the scouts certainly know who Youngblood is. The NCAA does allow you to play professional baseball and college football.

"I went to the Extra Innings Camp in Little Rock and hit 95 on the radar gun and that's when the doors really started opening up to major league scouts," Youngblood. "If I get taken high enough that is something I'll have to think about but like I said right now I am just thinking about playing both sports in college."

As of yet, he has not had any team tell him he would have to do one or the other.

"If it comes down to where a school offers me a whole lot more in football and they don't want me to play baseball, that just might be what I have to do, but I would like to keep all the door open."

Youngblood, who also punts, is now hoping to help Camden Fairview's baseball program have the same type of success as the football one.

"The past few years our baseball program hasn't exactly been the tops in the state, but we are taking a lot more pride in it now," Youngblood said. "I think I am second on the all-time wins list already and I've only been there for two years."

Youngblood, Curtis and Askew were all recently invited to the U.S. Army National Junior Combine in San Antonio.

"There were some mules down there," Youngblood said. "When you see these guys 6-10 and weighing 300 pounds walking in the door, it opens you eyes to see what the rest of the country is like and what's not from around your hometown."

The only thing that went wrong for Youngblood lately was his football team's final game of the season, a 49-14 humbling at the hands of visiting Pulaski Academy in the second round of the state playoffs.

Youngblood passed for 217 yards and rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns in a bitter defeat that put a bitter end to what has been an 11-0 season to that point.

"It motivates us," Youngblood said. "We started working that next day in the weight room. There is a big chalkboard in there and it says something about ‘That is not the way that you want to defend your home field. That is not the way to go out.' It makes us work even harder."



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