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Starting safety Scottie Young Jr. explains why he transferred from Arizona

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NCAA Football: UCLA at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats lost one of their most productive players last week when senior safety Scottie Young Jr. entered the transfer portal.

Originally recruited by Rich Rodriguez, Young started in 30 of the 32 games he appeared in over the last three years, logging 157 tackles (nine for loss), five interceptions, and 12 pass breakups.

On his way out he chatted with The Athletic’s C.J. Holmes and explained his decision to leave the program:

“I feel like I had gotten stagnant in my career and I wanted to take it to another level. I kind of just thought maybe a change of scenery, a chance of school would help me with that. The next step in my career is taking my game to a higher level, playing at a higher level

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“I felt like at times I just wasn’t myself. At times I just wasn’t always letting loose and I’m not sure what it was. It could’ve been something with me, I don’t know. But I just felt like that and I’ve never felt like that before at any point in my career. Not when I was a kid, not in high school, not in my first few years at Arizona.”

Young set a new career-high in tackles (66) as a junior in 2019, but also a career-low in tackles for loss (2.5) and only had one interception and four pass breakups.

It’s understandable Young would want a change of scenery when you consider a few other things. One, Arizona’s defense has been awful ever since he joined the program, finishing 118th, 98th, and 109th (of 130) in the country in scoring defense the last three years.

Two, the staff that recruited him is no longer with the program, including ex-defensive coordinator Marcel Yates who was retained from the RichRod era and fired midseason last year.

Third, Young says he wants to play at a higher level and Arizona has a weak track record when it comes to producing NFL talent. They have only had four players drafted since 2015, and two were seventh-round picks (though those were different defensive coaching staffs).

From Arizona’s standpoint, Young’s departure leaves them with only four safeties, though our Gabe Encinas outlined some moves they can make to create some depth.

That quartet is junior Christian Young, redshirt senior Jarrius Wallace, redshirt junior Rhedi Short, and sophomore Jaxen Turner. Young and Wallace are the only ones who have played significant snaps. (You can learn more about those guys here.)

Also, be sure to check out Scottie Young’s full Q&A with Holmes and The Athletic here. The ex-Wildcat talks about the 2019 season, the new defensive coaching staff, what he’s looking for in a school, and lots of other things.