“His legs are a great weapon right now. He runs the ball really well,” Shackelford said. “He’s a cerebral quarterback and understands what’s going on. He can get out of some bad plays and turn them into good ones. We’re working on his arms to get him more involved in the passing game.”
In four games, Young has 81 carries for 502 yards and four touchdowns. He is third in Cobb County in rushing behind Campbell’s Michael Rogers and Allatoona’s Josh Bettistea.
Young accounted for 106 rushing yards against Forsyth Central, with 87 coming in the first half to help Sprayberry win its first game of the season last week. It was a welcome change for the Yellow Jackets after losing the previous three to Class AAAAAA foes.
“I think this win will help us to know that we can win and what it feels like when we do win,” Young said.
When it comes to scrambling, one of Young’s better attributes is reading defenses, and it’s helped him make split-second decisions in the pocket. Whenever his protection breaks down, or if he doesn’t want to take a chance on throwing the ball into traffic, he can turn a passing play into a quarterback draw.
Running track for the first time last spring allowed Young to increase his speed, and he has been able to use that speed to turn previously short plays into long ones.
He showcased his talent against Kennesaw Mountain in the second game of the season, when he ran for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns.
When it comes to using his brain, Young understands the Sprayberry playbook. Shackelford said he can call plays based on what defenses give him.
“He makes a lot of decisions,” Shackleford said. “He’s got a lot of respect for his teammates and his teammates have a lot of respect for him as well. He’s not a rah-rah guy — he’ll get in there and rah-rah a little bit, but he’s a guy who can get in there and do what he’s supposed to do.”
While throwing the football is still a work in progress, Young can still make plays with his arm.
He has completed 22 of 55 passes for 294 yards, a touchdown and five interceptions. He threw that first touchdown pass against Forsyth Central when he connected with Jontae Williams for 19 yards at the beginning of the second half to give the Yellow Jackets a 10-point lead.
Young’s completion percentage will likely continue to improve as he continues to get acclimated with new receivers, a new running back and three new starting offensive linemen.
“I’ve been trying to work on my footwork,” Young said. “My footwork has been kind of fast, and it’s throwing our routes and timing off a little bit. During the offseason, I worked on putting more legs into my throw and not all arm like I was most of last year.
“He’s hurt defenses more with his legs than his arm, but I can see into the future that he can become a double-edged sword,” Shackelford said. “His passing is coming around where he can be more of a dual threat”