Donovonn Young Commits To Illini

It is rare when a quality football player from a dominant high school program gets overlooked in the recruiting wars. But the Fighting Illini may have found a true sleeper in Donovonn Young, a running back out of Katy, Texas. He is now committed to the Illini.

Running back Donovonn Young was disappointed he wasn't more highly valued by college recruiters.

"I gained 2300 yards, scored 35 touchdowns, and I only have two D-1 scholarships."

Fortunately, it was the University of Illinois that joined North Texas in the quest for his services. Today he confirmed his intention of becoming an Illini.

This was no real surprise as he told a Scout reporter in mid December Illinois was his likely intention.

"I guess you could say I'm already committed. In my mind, I'm set to go to Illinois."

Katy is near Houston, so Young was able to visit an Illini Texas Bowl practice and watch the game. He already knew the Illini had a strong running attack, but that gamed confirmed it even more.

He was planning to wait until after his January 21st campus visit before finalizing things but decided to go public ahead of time. He will still visit North Texas, but his decision is firm.

Illini running back coach DeAndre Smith heard about Young late in the process, but he worked fast thereafter.

"He was saying I wasn't even on their recruiting lists, but somebody found out about me. He was real buddies with him, and he gave a good word about me. They watched me on YouTube. The day the saw the video on YouTube, that's the day they offered me.

"He told me he only had to watch two plays, and he knew I was the kind of guy he wanted. He said he was recruiting somebody else, but when he saw my video, he said, 'I think I want to get this one.'"

It had to be frustrating watching other backs get juicy college offers while he remained unnoticed. He realized he couldn't be too picky should a good school come calling.

"In my situation, since I had a big senior year but nobody knew about me, I'm just looking for a school that won't put me behind anybody. I want to be the man. That's what Illinois sees me as. I want somebody who believes in me and believes I can get the job done."

Young is not extremely fast, but he is powerful. Tacklers bounce off him. Just the type of running back the Illini needed in this recruiting class.

"I give a lot of credit to my linemen. I run hard. I'm a real physical runner downhill. I don't like to run side to side, I like to concentrate on downhill."

The 5'-10", 200 pounder may be faster than he appears. He was injured as a junior, and his senior accomplishments came without proper preseason conditioning.

"I want to work on my speed. I had a groin injury this spring, so I wasn't able to train. Whatever I did, it was just happening. This off season I will be able to train. Last season I broke my foot, so I wasn't as agile as I used to be. I want to be the way I was. If I get to be the way I was, I'll be fine."

Young has a couple possible majors in mind.

"I think I want to stay close to sports. Maybe Sports Marketing or something like that. If not that, Communications."


Illini Inquirer Top Stories