The headliner of Kentucky’s 2016 signing class never came close to backing off his commitment to the Wildcats, but four-star offensive tackle Landon Young admittedly looked around at other schools.
Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State and South Carolina all received visits from the Lexington, Ky., native, but it was the Buckeyes that stuck out the most — and not for a good reason.
Young recounted a very negative encounter with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer that he detailed in a recent conversation with SEC Country:
Q: What is the funniest thing any head coach said to you during the entire recruiting process?
A: It may not be the best thing, but actually, I was at Ohio State having a private meeting with Urban Meyer. I had gone up to camp there, and they had treated me like a piece of meat, just treated me like crap. By that time, I was a four-star tackle. I weighed about 270 [pounds], and I was 6-7.
I wasn’t even on their radar. I came back up after they offered me. Four straight days, I got (offers from) the University of Cincinnati, Alabama, Auburn and then Ohio State. I went up and said, ‘Coach (Meyer), what was the reason that you all of a sudden offered me?’ He said, ‘We looked at your tape, and it was pretty good and I saw interest in that.’ I said, ‘Well coach, back when I was just committing to Kentucky and keeping my options open, I came up to a camp and sent you my film and everything, and you didn’t even reply. It seemed like y’all just deleted it.’
He said, ‘Well, if you look back at that time, you were how big?’ I said, ‘6-7, 270, just like I am now.’ He said, ‘Well, you were an insubstantial tackle, an insubstantial player,’ so he was saying I (didn’t) even amount to being able to be recruited by Ohio State as a four-star tackle. He said, ‘Now what offers did you have?’ I said, ‘I had my one from Kentucky,’ and he said, ‘Well, you were an insubstantial player with insubstantial offers from an insubstantial school.’
That sort of put me on a bad note because that’s the team I’m committed to. He called me a bad player at that. That doesn’t usually sit well with kids. I may not have been the best, but saying I was an insubstantial player sort of hit me the wrong way.
Q: Which school finished second in your recruitment? What could they have done a little better?
A: Probably Auburn came in second for me. For me, [Auburn could have] hit it more on a personal level. Coaches at UK, they really dissected into my life and based my recruiting process around me and provided a good relationship with that. They also hit my interests. They were a school that had a real, good moral base. [Offensive line] coach [John] Schlarman is a lover of the Lord, and so is coach [Mark] Stoops. That really hit it for me to just really connect on a personal level, be interested besides football what they’re doing in your life.
Q: What was the biggest rumor about you that wasn’t true?
A: There were rumors going around that I was going to commit to Alabama and stuff like that just like Damien Harris did because he was a Kentucky boy that was really intrigued with UK and ended up flipping his options going to Alabama. There was a big rumor going around that I was going to de-commit from Kentucky and commit to Alabama.
Q: What’s the biggest secret you kept during the recruiting process?
A: The biggest secret would be keeping my options open and going to see some of the schools that I did. I went on vacation in South Carolina, and on my way through, I just went and visited South Carolina. Nobody knew about it. Not even Kentucky knew about it for a long time until they were asking one day where I had visited.
Q: What was the funniest story that happened on one of your recruiting trips?
A: When I went to South Carolina, the Ole Ball Coach (Steve Spurrier), he was riding around practice in a golf cart. He would coach the kids off the golf cart. When I first introduced myself, he got me to hop on his golf cart and talk to him. That would probably be the funniest thing.
Q: Which coach was it the hardest to say no to?
A: I would probably have to say there were three that were really hard. That would be Auburn’s offensive line coach J.B. Grimes. He was probably the toughest because he knew Auburn was my No. 2. Then, Alabama and Florida — (tight ends) coach (Greg) Nord at Florida and (offensive line) coach (Mario) Cristobal at Alabama. They all kept me on the phone for probably an hour when I told them that I was sticking firm with Kentucky and I wasn’t going to go there. I would probably have to say that Auburn was the toughest because he knew Auburn was my No. 2, and it killed him that I wasn’t going there.
Q: Which school disappointed you the most during recruiting?
A hundred percent Ohio State.
Q: Which college would you have considered more seriously if they had offered you earlier in the process?
A: Alabama definitely. It may not have changed my decision, but it would have made it a lot more into the process of me looking. I’d have to say Alabama, Auburn and Miami because of the tradition at the U. I would’ve had to really dissect that a lot more.
Q: How much negative recruiting was out there?
A: Every school that I was recruited by except for Auburn and Kentucky would completely down the other schools. Out of my nine offers and all the other schools that talked to me and hadn’t offered me, it was Auburn and Kentucky that wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, this school’s terrible.’ A bunch of them would really badger Kentucky because I was committed there. It really put a sour taste in my mouth.
Kentucky actually towards the end of my process would encourage me to go take unofficials to these places to make sure I’m making the right decision for their team too. I didn’t want to wake up in four years and say, ‘Man, I made a mistake by going here.’ There were really good about that.
Q: Which head coach of a team that you did not sign with was the nicest?
A: I would have to say either coach [Gus] Malzahn or coach [Nick] Saban because both of those guys would personally want me to call them. Both of them I had private meetings with where they would talk to me about their program, me personally and about football. Saban was a little more standoffish because he is a very busy dude and had 150 recruits there, but just the fact that he took that time to sit there and talk with you, that meant a lot. And the same with coach Malzahn. He sat with me for probably 45 minutes about football and what I do outside of football.
Q: Which coach was not the nicest?
A: Urban Meyer. No one comes close.
Q: If you were in charge of the NCAA, what’s the one rule you would change with recruiting?
A: The one rule I would change would be allowing coaches to call you. I’ll talk to them on social media and stuff, but I don’t get on social media a whole lot.