The last time Willie Young played in a football game, he made a 95-yard touchdown catch to send a conference championship game into overtime, a game his team eventually won.
But that was two seasons ago.
Young missed all of the 2013 football season for academic reasons. That gives the sophomore plenty to look forward to in 2014.
“Got a lot of payback coming,” Young said Monday, after he and the Arkansas-Pine Bluff football team wrapped up its first spring practice. “Me and the team, we’ve been working hard. They’ve been looking forward for me to perform, so, yeah, I’m really ready this year.”
Young, along with free safety Ryan Shaw, running back Aaron Lagrone and defensive lineman Demarcus Berry, are back with the Golden Lions this spring after missing all of 2013. Sean Robison, who like the four was an academic casualty last year, has left the team for reasons coach Monte Coleman did not specify.
The other four, Coleman said, showed leadership capabilities during Monday’s drills, much needed for a team trying to put UAPB’s worst record in 27 years behind them.
“Knowing how we just won a championship my freshman year, knowing what we have to do, I don’t really think about it much,” Young said. “I just look ahead.”
In looking ahead, Young began work in new offensive coordinator Anthony Jones’ system.
“Today, he coached me on his new scheme, new routes,” Young said. “It’s basically the same thing. He’s just making sure I got it so I can be prepared at any moment.”
Coleman was happy with Monday’s workout, which lasted all of 2 hours in the afternoon. UAPB will practice each day through Friday this week, then every two days from April 8-18 and on April 21, 23 and 24 before closing spring with the Black and Gold Game April 26. All practices except for the Black and Gold Game are closed to the public.
“For whatever reason, the enthusiasm and the ability to move around impressed me,” Coleman said. “We’ve got guys in different positions. We’ve got safeties at corners.”
The enthusiasm could be a sign of what Young calls a new attitude within the team.
“Everybody’s got more confidence,” Coleman said. “Everybody wants to play. We used to be laid back. Everybody used to be quiet.
“Players know what it feels like to lose. In 2012, they saw we won it. So now, everybody wants to get the feeling of ‘we can do it’ because we did it before.”
Jeremiah Young out until court ruling
Coleman announced Monday that Jeremiah Young, UAPB’s second-leading rusher as a true freshman in 2013, will not participate in football activities until a ruling is made in his legal case.
The Dollarway graduate was arrested March 17 on suspicion of sexual indecency with a minor and video voyeurism and is out on $25,000 bond. He has not yet been formally charged.
“Jeremiah is going through probably one of the toughest times in his life,” Coleman said. “We love Jeremiah. We’re not passing any judgment on him. The thing I suggested to the team is that we’ll pray for him. Until the court system makes a ruling, he will not participate with the team.”
Another coaching change
Coleman will be in the market for another assistant coach when spring drills conclude.
On Monday, Coleman said that Henry Miller resigned as the Lions’ secondary coach just before Spring Break to spend more time with family.
Miller, who was first hired by UAPB in 2006, rejoined the staff in 2012 after a 3 ½-year hiatus.
Byron Anderson, who was hired in February to replace Earl Buckingham as linebackers’ coach, has taken over the secondary while Coleman works with the linebackers.