The tale of how one of UNCP’s newest walk-
ons to the football team came to fruition is more than just a feel-good story to warm the hearts of readers.
The journey of the program’s hungriest fullback is a true testament to the meaning of determination and the embodiment of perseverance. Tyrone Young’s hunger for the pursuit of the game is not a mere grumbling in the pit of his stomach to envelope defenders or a lingering itch to strap the pads back on, but in reality it is a passionate yearning to play the sport that he loves and do what God put in his heart and mind to do.
Tyrone Young is UNCP Football’s newest walk-on. Photo by UNCP Athletics
Although he graduated as a Trojan of Olympic High School back in 2013, he played football for Carolina Pride, a private Christian school. Young has come a long way, not in miles but in time and through obstacles he’s had to overcome.
From battling injuries and debilitating setbacks, to being unable to afford the cost of attendance at the institutions willing to provide an opportunity to see the field again, Young’s resolve has remained absolute and unwavering. He contemplated transferring to UNCP in the spring of 2015, but he missed the deadline to apply for the fall football season. He decided to attend North Carolina Wesleyan College instead.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to play much that season because he had surgery on his knee. The procedure uncovered that he had rare disease which ends the careers of most of the athletes that fall victim to it.
Tyrone was diagnosed with pigmented villonodular synovitis, which is described as an inflammation and overgrowth of the joint lining that commonly occurs in the knee or hip. However, this diagnosis, nor the surgery that succeeded it, was enough to deter him from following his dream of playing college football.
Through sheer will and perseverance, he was able to join his brothers on the field after just eight short weeks of rehab and recovery. Due to financial constraints and the fact that Division III programs don’t offer athletic scholarships, Young could not continue his collegiate career playing at that institution.
He attended Central Piedmont Community College in the spring of 2016 where he pondered where he would attempt to play next. He decided to transfer to UNCP because, unlike other schools, they offered him the best opportunity to make the team, with the least amount of monetary strain.
Young participated in the fall 2017 tryout in an attempt to make the team as a linebacker, the position he had predominantly played and felt most comfortable. Young admitted to not humbling himself and heeding the advice of head coach Shane Richardson, who recommended that he try out for the fullback position.
The coaches believed it would be his best chance of making the team at the time.
“He told me to get better and he gave me another opportunity that fall, and I performed well but the roster was full, and they wanted me to wait until the spring and maybe join the support staff in the interim,” Young said. “At that time, I believe that they were testing me to see how bad I wanted it because at that moment, I just didn’t know if I should just give up.”
He said since he graduated nearly five years ago, many individuals around his age would have abandoned their athletic pursuits shortly after graduating. Plenty others would have as well, especially after having to endure such hardships.
“Me being at the age of 22 now, and still chasing the dream, I believe gives hope to a lot of people that may not get the opportunity the first time around but not to give up,” Young said. “Being awarded to come in the spring to play fullback as a walk-on is great and I’m ready for the opportunity.”
“Right now, I’m at the bottom of the depth chart, but I just have to work my way up and I’m just ready to see what happens in this upcoming spring ball and in the fall,” he said. “I have two years of eligibility left so it should be fun,” Young said.
Coach Richardson directly called Young on the second day of the new year, notifying him that he made the team. Young was elated and enthused when he got the long-awaited call from the head coach himself.
He is anxious to prove to the staff and his new band of brothers that he is deserving of this opportunity and that he will make the most of it.