Marshall transfer back on field after spine injury

A reserve defensive end, it’s hard to predict John Youboty’s statistical impact at Temple.

But the Marshall transfer should excel this season at teaching the Owls how to overcome adversity and be mentally tough.

Youboty first had to deal with the death of his mother, Jeannet, prior to his junior year at Klein High School in Texas. Then in the spring of 2010, the 6-foot-4, 258-pounder suffered what Thundering Herd doctors said was a career-ending spine injury.

But the Philadelphia native, who moved to Houston when he was 5 years old, is proof that one can overcome obstacles.

Family members stepped up and provided parental guidance for, John and his older brother, Aston, a defensive back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when their mother passed away.  And on Sept. 1, more than a year after being told his career was finished, John will suit up against Villanova.

“I think the tough things you go through in your life make you stronger,” said Youboty, who moved in with an aunt after his mom’s death. “If something doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.”

Now, the junior’s goals are to provide depth and become a solid teammate.

“As a right now, I’m just trying to fit in with the team,” he said, “just getting along with the guys, earning their respect and trust. Anything else further will be extra.”

But last spring, Youboty was focused on preparing to have a breakout 2010 season at Marshall.

After redshirting in 2008, he finished with 13 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two pass breakups in 2009.

Youboty, however,  pinched  a nerve in the C3 vertebra while receiving a blind-side hit during spring practice . He was informed by Marshall team doctors his playing days were over.

Determined to resume his career, Youboty got second and third opinions from doctors in California and in Baltimore. They cleared him to play.

And since Marshall still wouldn’t clear him to play for the Thundering Herd, the NCAA allowed him to start contacting other programs.

That’s how Youboty became an Owl.

He basically followed defensive line coach Sean Cronin, strength and conditioning coach Frank Piraino and wideout coach Zach Smith to North Broad Street.  The three former Marshall assistants joined Temple’s staff after Steve Addazio was named coach in December.

Youboty enrolled in classes at Temple for the second summer semester and worked out with the team while his paperwork  was going through compliance.  The NCAA finally cleared him to play this season last month.

Coming off the back injury, he admits to initially being nervous to participate in full-contact drills.

It didn’t take long for Youboty to overcome his fear.

“Over the past couple of days, I have been taking some pretty good hits,” he said. “So I feel confident in my back, knowing that it is fully healed.”

And that's a good thing for Temple.

In addition to providing depth, Youboty is proof that you can overcome obstacles.

-          Keith Pompey