Isheem Young is the next incoming Cyclone that I will be taking a look at. Young is a 5’10, 170 pound safety from Philadelphia ranked as the 33rd best safety in the 2019 class and a three star recruit by 247sports. Elite-level schools such as Alabama, Georgia, and Oklahoma all offered Young to join their squad, but he ultimately chose Iowa State over Penn State and West Virginia.
Young plays safety, which was one of the most surprising units on the team last season. Greg Eisworth, Lawrence White, and Braxton Lewis were all great in the secondary in pass coverage and tackling. However, outside out of those three there will be some competition for snaps behind them. Isheem will compete with Keontae Jones, Arnold Azunna, and Richard Bowens III for reps.
He also played running back in high school and appeared to be really good at it. But he was just a better defensive back and will play that at Iowa State.
Isheem Young is another player that will be moving on campus when summer practice kicks off.
Isheem Young is a do-it-all type of safety who could play cover corner if needed. He is very fast and quick which allows him to close in on ball carriers. Once, he closes in, he is pretty relentless when it comes to open field hits. Thanks to his speed and ability to track the ball, he can cover man-to-man at a high level.
Here is an example of Young’s excellent instincts and ball skills. The quarterback did a poor job of looking right where he was going to throw it, and Young saw that and was already in pursuit when the ball was in air. His quick burst of speed allowed him to beat the receiver to the ball to seal the interception.
Young is a hard hitter. On this play he fills the gap, and throws himself at the runner while bringing him down in the process. We’ve seen a lot of this in the recent past with the hard hitters of Kamari Cotton-Moya and Greg Eisworth.
It’s certainly awesome that he can hit hard and is willing to lay his body out for some hits. However, his overall tackling form could use some polish, though that’s mostly me nitpicking.
Here’s another really hard hit from Young. The ball carrier broke through the second level and Young was one of the last lines of defenses. Young decides to get low and put his shoulder down, which results in the running back getting knocked into another dimension while losing his helmet in the process.
One of Iowa State’s most successful defensive strategies deployed last season was the safety blitz with Greg Eisworth. Here is an example of Young breaking through the line and getting to the quarterback. Not only did he achieve the first step by getting pressure on the quarterback, but he finished the play and got the sack. Having this ability adds a whole new level of versatility and disruption to the defense.
This punt return is nothing more than a display of his speed and strength. Since he’s so efficient at playing running back, it only makes sense that he’s a good punt returner. Return specialists are a position that Iowa State hasn’t stuck with one guy for the past few seasons, so this very well could be a role for Young as an underclassmen if he can perform at this level.
One aspect of his game that I was intrigued to see, but wasn’t in his film was his man-to-man coverage. As a safety, it isn’t the most important part of his game because he won’t be asked to do it a lot, so we don’t get to see what his footwork looks like. I can imagine that with his speed and quickness, anything better than average could make him a very good cover corner if a position switch was warranted.
I’ve already talked about this quite a bit throughout this article, but it’s worth breaking down further than I already have. Isheem Young is a very similar player to Greg Eisworth, a guy who bursted onto the scene last season, and became one of the best players on the Iowa State defense while displaying tremendous amounts of athleticism and leadership. Eisworth is a hard hitting safety who plays great zone coverage, much like what I’ve seen in Isheem Young.
If Young can make an impact on the field during his tenure in Ames like we saw Eisworth have last season, we should be in for a treat.
Young plays a pretty basic type of mix between strong safety and free safety. He fits into Jon Heacock’s blitz-heavy system pretty seamlessly, leaving a shorter learning curve as he transitions from high school to Power Five football.
Overall, I’m pretty impressed with Young as a player. Like most recruits, there’s a ton of room for improvement, but I see a lot of potential in this kid. With a thin secondary behind the starters, there could be a chance for Young to see the field as a freshman in the safety or the cornerback position. His speed could also make him an effective special teams player if Matt Campbell was willing to burn his redshirt after 4 games.
Matt Campbell has said a lot that there is a reason for every recruit that he brings to campus, and it’s easy to see l that this guy has the leadership qualities and athleticism that this staff has been building their team around.
Isheem Young has the opportunity to learn behind a preseason unanimous All-Big 12 defensive selection in Greg Eisworth. I hope that he takes full advantage of that and blossoms into the player that he has the chance to be.