TF North Kendi Young

TF North running back Kendi Young has nine Division I scholarship offers.

Kendi Young took a break from football before he got to high school, but his return to the sport was inevitable.

"I was playing basketball," the TF North senior said. "But I knew I was breaking my dad's heart (because) I wasn't playing football."

No wonder, because Rodney Young Sr. started the family tradition of playing college football as a powerful running back at Tulsa. Two of Kendi's older brothers also took their football careers to college: Taylor at Baylor and Rodney Jr. at Arizona and Louisiana-Monroe.

Next year, Kendi Young figures to be playing on Saturdays, too. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound running back has nine Division I offers, including a Power Five one from Kansas.

"Recruiting's going good," he said. "I'm not really focused on it right now because I want to make sure I have a good senior year."

The three-star prospect is looking for a school where he can make an immediate impact, and one that offers strong academics in his main interests of business and criminology. If all goes according to plan, he'll commit in December ahead of the February signing period.

When Kendi Young started playing football with the Calumet City Chargers, he was a lineman. "I was a little heavy," he said. "I was oversized a little bit."

Now he's one of the fastest players on the field, and a returning 1,000-yard rusher for the Meteors.

He's so central to North's plans this season that coach Tristan Stovall has switched offensive schemes from the wing-T to the spread, the better to showcase his top player.

That was based in part on feedback from Illinois running backs coach Mike Bellamy, who told Stovall, "He's the best pure running back in the state, but we need one who's more versatile."

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"I told Bellamy,' 'You haven't offered yet,'" Stovall said. "'We'll create that system for him and come back and see you.'"

For all of Kendi Young's skills on the field, that's not the first place Stovall goes when discussing him.

"Humble, serious about the game," Stovall said. "None of this has gone to his head."

What sets Kendi Young apart from other players, apart from his physical gifts? "It's the drive of going from nobody knowing (you) to now people are starting to acknowledge how good you are — that hunger," Stovall said.

That's manifested in Kendi Young wanting to be more than just an instinctual player.

"This year ... I'm going to read my holes better," he said. "I'm going to know where I'm going before I even get the ball. Instead of (like) last year, where I'd get the ball and (think), 'OK, this is where I'm going.'"

Rodney Young Sr. knows his son is going places, offering advice based on his own college football experience.

"He was just like, 'Don't think (only) about your state because (you're) competing with everybody in the country," Kendi Young said. "He said I'm better than him."

And recruiters seem to agree, based on the interest they're showing so far.

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