Aaron Young had every reason to scratch Old Dominion off his list of college football suitors. For starters, the Norfolk-based program competed in the Football Championship Subdivision ranks, leaving the Carroll senior defensive back one step short of his dream — playing Football Bowl Subdivision football. Then, Monarchs secondary coach Keita Malloy, who also served as Young’s recruiter, was fired in December.
But after ODU announced in May that it would be moving up to Football Bowl Subdivision competition in 2013 and an unexpected phone call of reassurance from Monarchs Coach Bobby Wilder, Young had heard enough. He wanted to be a Monarch, a commitment that he recently made official.
“From the time Old Dominion offered me this past summer, they’ve let me know how much they were interested in me and that means a lot,” Young said. “When Coach Wilder called me and said he still wants me and hopes [Malloy’s firing] didn’t change my mind, that let me know they were 100 percent in and that it was the school for me.”
Just as critical in Young’s journey to this point was his decision to switch from quarterback to defensive back as a sophomore. After injuring his wrist, Carroll coach Rick Houchens suggested that Young move to cornerback, a position better suited for a six-foot, 187-pound playmaker who could run the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds.
Following a stellar showing his junior season, Young exploded as a senior this past fall, recording nine interceptions, 68 tackles and two fumble recoveries to earn All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference honors. He also tallied 721 rushing yards, 572 receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns from the running back and slot receiver positions.
“That was one of the best decisions Coach Rick made for me in my life,” Young said. “When I first tried playing defensive back, I loved it and it really gave me confidence that I could play at a high level.”
Young, who also had offers from the likes of Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Ohio and Toledo, said that the opportunity to play as a freshman also drew him to ODU. And with the Monarchs welcoming Richard Nagy as its new secondary coach, Young sees even more potential to earn a spot on what’s now an open depth chart.
“With the skill Aaron has, it’s a great opportunity for him to go in and even start as a freshman,” Houchens said. “I always tell my players that going to college is the goal but playing in college is the ultimate prize, and Aaron has that chance.”