UK Football

For Landon Young, signing day with UK a long time coming

Lafayette offensive lineman, Jedrick Wills tossed a water bottle to Landon Young at practice on Tuesday July 21, 2015 in Lexington, Ky.
Lafayette offensive lineman, Jedrick Wills tossed a water bottle to Landon Young at practice on Tuesday July 21, 2015 in Lexington, Ky. mcornelison@herald-leader.com

It only seems as if Landon Young has been committed to play football for Kentucky since Fran Curci was the Wildcats’ head coach.

The Lafayette High School offensive tackle — the highest-ranked prospect to choose UK in the Internet recruiting service era — made a verbal commitment to play for Mark Stoops in June 2013.

On Wednesday, the 6-foot-7, 298-pound Young at long last officially became a Kentucky Wildcat.

“I was talking about this with Coach Stoops the other day. It seems like I’ve been with Kentucky through a long journey — and it’s really just now starting,” Young said Tuesday. “Now that it’s finally here, it doesn’t seem real.”

When players commit to a school unusually early, often they wind up signing with someone else.

His stock among the recruiting services eventually rising to five-star status, Young certainly had opportunities to go to a more traditionally successful football school than UK.

From the beginning, Young had an idea of how he wanted his recruitment to go, Lafayette Coach Eric Shaw said. Two schools, UK and Auburn, especially interested Young, Shaw said.

“One of those got in really early and made a big impression,” Shaw said, meaning Kentucky. “The other eventually got in, too, but never could make up the ground UK had” made by getting in so early. “Landon, at the end of the day, is kind of a ‘hometown guy.’”

Even with his early commitment to Kentucky, Young gave himself a chance to see what else was out there. He took unofficial visits to traditional powers such as Alabama and Ohio State.

“I did, I looked at other places,” he said. “But I always felt most comfortable at Kentucky.”

His high school senior season saw Young help Lafayette (12-3) reach the Class 6A state finals.

After a strong showing at the postseason Army All-American Bowl, Young emerged as a consensus five-star recruit.

“That did mean something to me,” Young said. “It was a goal I set, something I worked toward, and it came true. But, when I get to UK, that five-star stuff won’t mean one thing. I’ll be starting over new, just like everybody else.”

Unlike some others in UK’s 2016 signing class, Young will not give up his final semester of high school to enroll early in college. He has remaining high school sports goals.

As a wrestler, Young was state runner-up as a heavyweight as a freshman but missed the past two state tournaments due to injury. “This year, I’m ranked number one in the state in the heavyweight division,” he said. “I really want that state championship.”

In track and field, Young won the 3A state championship two years ago in the shot put and the discus, but last year he won only the discus, coming in second in the shot.

“I want to get back and try to win both again,” he said.

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