College interest: UT-Chattanooga, Middle Tennessee State, Furman, Tulsa, Army, William & Mary, Vanderbilt.
Tye Youngblood didn't play any sports until his eighth-grade year but life has changed drastically since and his prowess has made the 6-foot-4, 270-pounder a recruiting prospect in both football and wrestling.
"The thing that really helped him last year as a junior was a really good year in wrestling," McCallie coach Bubba Simmons said. "He kept getting better and better. He just needed a little confidence and he got that in wrestling."
A country music fan who lists his favorite artist as Allan Jackson, Youngblood was already drawing attention, making the Division II-AA middle/east team although the Blue Tornado fell short of a winning season. His consistent effort was enough to get him invitations to spring games at Clemson and the Tennessee and Vanderbilt's junior day. Too, he's receiving letters from most of the Southeastern Conference schools, especially UT, Vandy, Alabama and Auburn.
The school that seems to have caught his eye is William & Mary.
"I want to play football in college for someone that competes and has good academics and William & Mary is the preseason [Football Championship Series] No. 1," he said.
Simmons is convinced that Youngblood has the tools and the academics (3.2 gpa, 27 ACT) needed to play at the next level.
"Where he ends up will likely depend on how he does this season," Simmons said. "UTC and MTSU really like him. He camped at Vanderbilt and he has talked with some people in the ACC."
What recruiters like about Youngblood is that he's long and lean.
"The people I talk to are telling me mid-major and up. No. 1, he's a great student and people love the fact that he's long and, even at 270, he's lean. He could put on another 20 or 30 pounds and still be lean but you start talking about D-I linemen and a lot of them are anywhere from 320 to 340," Simmons said.
The recruiters will get an even better look at Youngblood this year as he tackles a two-way role for the first time in his short career.
"I know we'll get great effort on both sides of the ball. In the spring and since we have been in camp, Tye has continued to make progress. He came into fall camp looking lean and he passed the running test with ease. He also is taking more of a leadership role."
Leadership often means putting the team ahead of individual goals and it was evident in conversations that Youngblood thought much more about team than self.
When asked about his best game, Youngblood replied, "The BGA game last year. It was our best offensive performance as a team."
He then cited another team moment when asked about his favorite football memory.
"Beating Briarcrest [last season] in the playoffs. It was special because we were in the same position the year before and lost," he said.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...