Mike Young’s toughness is evident in the way he patrols the defensive backfield at Dodge City Community College.
It also is the product of a lifetime of turbulence that has failed to derail him.
Young’s father died when he was 7. His mother came into his life two years ago after seeking rehab for longtime substance abuse problems.
He was raised by his grandmother, Mary McIntosh, who died of a heart attack May 31, making Young’s commitment to join Boise State’s football team in 2017 a bittersweet moment.
“It has been tough, but it’s all been part of why I’m here,” Young said. “I know this is what (McIntosh) would want, making the right decision for me, and I feel it’s best for my family, too.”
Young’s father, a promising basketball player, dropped out of high school as a sophomore, falling into a violent gang culture that surrounded him. McIntosh moved out of the area when Young was a boy. If it wasn’t for his grandmother, Young may not have even played football.
“She signed me up when I was in seventh grade, and I actually quit, but she wanted me to try again,” Young said. “She probably knew more about football than I do. I didn’t like getting hit, but when I went back in eighth grade, I played defense. Once I got to do the hitting, I loved it.”
A native of Raytown, Mo., the 6-foot, 205-pound Young had 77 tackles, forced two fumbles and broke up six passes last season for Dodge City as a redshirt freshman. He will play again this fall for the Conquistadors, expecting to graduate in December and join the Broncos in January with two years of eligibility as a redshirt junior.
“I really liked (defensive backs) coach (Ashley) Ambrose. I’ve talked with him more than anyone,” Young said. “I want to go somewhere I have a chance to play, a place that’s the right fit for me. It doesn’t have to be a big school that will say anything to get you there. I can trust the coaches at Boise State with my future.”
A strong tackler, Young hopes to get his hands on a few more passes this fall. He said when Boise State safeties coach Gabe Franklin saw him practice this spring, “I had a bunch of interceptions — he liked that.”
Young is the Broncos’ third known 2017 commitment — and the second Mike Young. The first verbal was Arizona high school offensive lineman Mike Young on May 25. The class also includes Arizona high school quarterback Chase Cord.
Though he has yet to visit Boise, Mike Young No. 2 hopes to soon, and continue forward as the rocky path behind him moves into the rear view.
“You don’t have to go to LSU or Alabama to make it in this sport. A place like Boise State can make you just as successful,” Young said. “You can make it from anywhere if you work hard enough. ... That’s what I’ve done, and that’s what I’m going to do.”