US ARMY GAME: Young Says It's Tough To Say No

SAN ANTONIO --- The toughest day in the young life of Sam Young was a couple of weeks ago, the day he had to pick up the phone and tell Coach Urban Meyer that he was no longer considering the University of Florida. As difficult as that was, it is a process he knows he will have to repeat at least three more times in the next three weeks as National Signing Day approaches.

(Sam Young profile)

"Going through what I had to do to tell different coaches that I'm no longer interested is obviously a disappointing experience," said Young, the 6-8, 300-pound offensive tackle from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. "You go through this whole recruiting process and you develop relationships that take months to build and then you have to say no to them. It's not an easy thing to go through when you have to say no, especially to a coach you like and respect."

Young is rated the second best offensive lineman in the country and the number seven overall prospect by He is already light years ahead of most offensive line prospects coming out of high school because he has extraordinary footwork. Many veteran observers at the US Army All-American Bowl practices this week have come to the conclusion that Young might be that rare talent capable of starting as a true freshman on the offensive line.

On the day he called Urban Meyer to say no, he also had to call Larry Coker, the coach at Miami. He likes both of these coaches, likes their fans and the campuses but said he is ready to stretch his wings and expand his territory a bit. Gainesville, and especially Miami, are just too close to home.

"I definitely love Coach Meyer and the entire Florida coaching staff," he said. "I probably like them better than any staff that's recruited me but it came down to wanting to spread out, go to some new places and experience some new things.

"I just decided that the best place for me would be out of state. It's nothing against the University of Florida it's just that I had to make a choice about what's best for me."

So the final choice will come from Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan and Southern California. He likes the coaches from those four schools, too, but he is aware that in a little more than three weeks he will have to go through the same process of making calls and saying no to people he likes.

"It obviously won't get any easier but it has to be done," he said. "It's unfair to the coaches, unfair to your family and unfair to yourself to keep people hanging on. I've tried to be up front with people all along and I will try to continue to be that way.

"I really don't look forward to saying no to people but sometimes you have to. I guess that's just a tough lesson about life that I've learned."

To kids who are about to go through the recruiting process, he offers the kind of advice that only a five-star recruit that has had offers from practically every Division I program could give: "I would tell them to sit back, enjoy the show, take all your trips and don't take anything for granted along the way. Enjoy the process while you can because not everyone gets a chance to have this kind of an experience. I feel really blessed that I've had this kind of opportunity. Only a few kids can say they've had a chance of a lifetime like I've had."

Meanwhile, there is a new rumor spring up on message boards every day about where he's going to go to school next year. One day he's supposed to be a silent commitment to Notre Dame and the next day he is supposed to be a Penn State lock. Michigan and Southern Cal factor into the message board staccato each day but the reality is nobody knows where Sam Young will be in school next year. Everybody has a theory but they are only theories at this point. The ultimate reality here is that even Sam isn't really sure at this point where he is going to go.

"I'm not going to say you can't say what goes on a message board and say whatever it is that you want to say but unless you've heard it directly from me, I wouldn't believe it," he said. "I'm still trying to figure it all out myself. I really do wish I had it all figured out because even though this has been a lot of fun in so many ways, it's been a burden at the same time.

"I know I have a choice to make very soon and when I get it all figured out, I'll let everyone know but right now, I can't tell you where I'm going next year. I just don't know. I wish I did but I don't."

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