Given the late date in the recruiting calendar, Kendall Young is an unlikely prospect for Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins to have signed. The linebacker from Bentonville, Ark., stands 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds and has the sort of long body that Collins craves.
However, Young, who announced Saturday via Twitter that he had signed scholarship papers with Tech, will arrive on campus in early June with a history that is highly atypical for the school.
Last December, the newest member of Georgia Tech’s roster was arrested for breaking and entering. On Sunday, Young’s mother said that she wanted to make clear that he was neither charged nor convicted and asserted his innocence.
“I raised him in a Christian household and that’s just the values that we stand by,” Audrey Bell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Like anybody, he’s not perfect or anything. But I know that he does try to uphold Christian values.”
Last fall, Young, a three-star prospect, chose Vanderbilt over scholarship offers from Arkansas and Missouri. A three-star prospect, Young showed he could pass rush off the edge, tackle well and close on ballcarriers with explosiveness. He earned all-state honors in the state of Arkansas.
His life changed dramatically late on the night of Dec. 14, however. Police allege that Young and a friend took a GPS device, Oakley sunglasses and a flashlight out of a truck in an apartment parking lot in Bentonville.
However, state prosecutors did not charge Young. Instead, on Feb. 27, Young was placed in a diversion program. By the rules of the program, if Young does not commit any criminal offenses and maintains good behavior over the next 12 months (from the program’s start) and completes 96 hours of community service, state prosecutors will not bring forward any charges.
“My client, Mr. Young, understands the serious nature of court proceedings and is handling the present matter seriously,” Young’s attorney, Christopher Smiley, said in a statement. “I am confident that no charges will be filed and Mr. Young will press forward with his post-secondary endeavors without issue.”
Bell said she was confident that her son didn’t do anything wrong.
“He’s matured a lot,” Bell said. “He’s more mindful of his people, who he’s surrounding himself with, which I think is the biggest matter in the whole incident.”
After the arrest, Vanderbilt put its scholarship offer to Young on hold, Bell said.
“Then a couple days later, (Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason), he called back and said, ‘Well, look, I’m going to fight for you,’ ” Bell said.
While interest from college coaches continued, Young did not sign in either the early or regular signing periods, the latter of which ended April 1. On March 3, four days after he was placed in the diversion program, Young tweeted out a message that “What happened was in the past and it’s been settled. There is nothing on my record and I wasn’t convicted of ANYTHING. I have a chip on my shoulder and it’s staying there.”
He also made an appeal to college coaches, stating that he was ready to work and warning them not to pass up on him.
Tech extended an offer in mid-March, and Bell said that a visit that Young took to Atlanta during his spring break was a turning point in his decision-making process. Young grew up in Douglasville — he and his mother moved to Bentonville in 2012 for her to take a job at Walmart’s home office — and his father, Frank Young, lives in Atlanta.
“When the opportunity came for him to go to Georgia Tech, even though we had this relationship with Vanderbilt, his dad really wanted him to go to Georgia Tech so that he can be close to him and he can help him also to develop in ways that a father wants to,” Bell said.
It would be reasonable to surmise that Collins has learned enough about Young and his situation to conclude that he is not taking an undue risk in bringing Young on the roster, but he nor the school could offer comment on the situation as of Sunday because it had not received the signing documents.
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