Scottie Young Jr. changed his number from 19 to 6 before the start of the Arizona Wildcats’ fall camp, and it represented more than just an aesthetic change for the UA’s junior safety.
“It’s like a reincarnation for me,” Young said. “I felt like I needed something new.”
The San Diego native’s desire to have “something new” is easy to understand.
In September 2017, Young was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, and was subsequently suspended for the Wildcats’ first game of the 2018 season. He was kept away from all team activities in the spring and summer leading up to the season as well.
Now, almost two years since his arrest, Young is coming into the Cats’ new campaign more mature than ever.
“It’s just trials and tribulations. It’s a learning curve,” he said. “I think, as time goes on, everybody matures. Some people mature faster than others. Some guys come in mature, some guys take a longer time.
“I’m just paying my dues, coming in every day working hard, you know? Not having no distractions and just putting things behind me. Just being a great teammate, being a great leader.”
The improved mentality Young has seemingly manifested hasn’t gone unnoticed either. Several Arizona coaches and players have commented on the junior’s new mindset and leadership role throughout the course of fall camp.
“Scottie is definitely more mature,” defensive coordinator Marcel Yates said. “Obviously you don’t want that to happen (his arrest and suspension) but that maturity was something he kind of he gained from it. He’s being more vocal than ever.”
Yates also said he could tell how much it meant to Young being back with his teammates.
“Not being with his teammates and his team, for a kid like that I can tell it was a big deal," Yates says. "It meant something to him.“
Said Young: "I wasn’t here (to start last year) and I missed a lot. Just being back around my teammates meant a lot to me."
Fellow defensive back, senior Tristan Cooper, also praised Young for the growth he’s seen in him.
“That’s my dude, man,” Cooper said. “There’s a lot of things people don’t see about Scottie. I know a lot of people wouldn’t last in his shoes, man.”
When asked what changes he’s seen in Young over the last couple years, Cooper said he just doesn’t seem to get phased by things anymore.
“He’s not worried about what people got to say about him, you know? He just goes out there every day.” Cooper said. “He learned from his mistakes, and he won’t make them again.”
After logging a team-best three interceptions in 2018, Young figures to be one of Arizona’s most important defensive players in 2019 and a key figure in improving a secondary that allowed the most passing yards per game in the Pac-12 last year.
Considering that he played through an injury as a sophomore and that this year will be the first time that he has taken part in each of the UA’s spring, summer and fall camps, he could very well be on the cusp of his most influential season yet.
When he was asked about his personal goals for the upcoming year, Young said they are the exact same as his team goals.
“I just want to win,” he said with a smile. “Win, win, win, win.”
He went on to add that he never lost faith that everything would work out for him, even after the tumultuous situations he’d been through.
“I always knew that everything was gonna be for a bigger purpose,” he said. “And here we are today.”
The growth that Young has gone through, both as a person and in the way he looks at the game, can be summed up by what Arizona’s head coach Kevin Sumlin said of him after the Wildcats’ first full scrimmage early in camp.
“I think Scottie has really upped his game,” Sumlin said that day. “He’s become a leader, he’s communicating, he’s a much different player, a much different guy than he was when I first got here. Just how he handles himself, how he talks to the players, how he talks to everybody else. I’ve been really pleased with his progress.”