Young turning coaches' heads at Imhotep

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Imhotep's Isheem Young played several positions in addition to cornerback in the fall. AARON WINDHORST / Staff

Albie Crosby has coached an abundance of talented high school football players as an assistant at West Catholic and as the current coach of Public League powerhouse Imhotep Charter.

West Catholic's Curtis Brinkley, who went to Syracuse and later played four seasons in the NFL, immediately comes to mind.

Imhotep stars Deandre Scott (now at Maine) and Denniston "D.J." Moore (now at Maryland) aren't far behind. And current senior Naseir "Pop" Upshur, who will play at Florida State, can't be forgotten, either.

According to Crosby, however, current Imhotep sophomore Isheem Young, who has played only one varsity season, could be the best yet.

And several big-time Division I programs have already taken notice.

"I haven't hid from them that he could be the best football player I've ever coached," said Crosby, who just completed his fourth season at Imhotep.

Young, a 5-foot-11, 184-pound defensive back, was a multipurpose standout on last season's talent-rich Class 3A championship squad, the first Public League team to win the state football championship.

In all, Young owns eight Division I scholarship offers. Last week alone, Florida State, Michigan State, Penn State and Maryland made offers. Temple made an earlier offer.

So who is Isheem Young?

"I see a mixture of Curtis Brinkley and Deandre Scott," said Crosby, who also coached current South Carolina running back David Williams.

Brinkley, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound back for the Burrs, owns more career rushing yards (6,528) than any player in city history, according to TedSilary.com. His 2,813 ground yards in 2002 also represent a single-season city record.

"Offensively, [Young] is smooth," Crosby said. "He sees it and hits it. There aren't a lot of moves. It's just one cut and go. If he has to make a move, like Brinkley used to do, he can shake you out of your shoes or he can run you over."

Scott, a 5-foot-8, 190-pounder for the Panthers, was a hard-hitting safety who played two seasons at Arizona State before transferring to Maine last month.

Scott finished his Imhotep career with 13 interceptions, 14 return touchdowns (six by interception, two kickoff returns, four punt returns and two fumble returns) and nine rushing touchdowns.

"Defensively, [Young] is just relentless," Crosby said. "He's a missile. He comes out of nowhere. And when I say he lights people up, he lights people up."

Last season, the versatile Young played cornerback, safety, tailback, slot receiver, kicker, kick returner and punt returner.

"We could never give him too much, and I think that speaks volumes of a sophomore," Crosby said of Young.

Young finished with seven offensive touchdowns, 83 tackles (fourth-most on the team), six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a sack. Junior linebacker Amin Black led the team with 123 tackles.

If he has his druthers, however, defense would be Young's position.

"I like defense better," said Young, who lives near 16th and Spring Garden. "I like to hit. I just like contact. I've always been like that."

As a freshman, however, his offensive skills earned national spotlight after his four-touchdown, 158-yard rushing performance led the Northwest Raiders to their first Pop Warner National Super Bowl championship.

Is all the attention too much too soon?

"I don't worry about him," said Crosby, who did express concern about outside influences.

"The group he has around him now is solid," Crosby added. "That group has been a great influence, but I'm just a little concerned about people trying to get in his ear that are trying to get a gain for themselves and not a gain for him."

Among Young's current inner circle are his mother, Nicole Hawkins; Cyril Woodland, who coached Young on the Northwest Raiders; and Cliff Puckett, who coached Young from 10 to 13 years old with the youth football CYA Gators.

As for Young, the early attention only serves as extra motivation.

"I'm excited about [the offers], but I know more will come if I work even harder," he said. "As of right now, it feels great. My grades are good, and I'm getting scholarships. Every day I'm happy."

cartera@phillynews.com

@AceCarterINQ