Hor­net Hogs liv­ing their dreams

The Saline Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By Nate Allen Ra­zor­backs Re­port

FAYET­TEVILLE - Bryant High School alums Bren­den Young and Cameron Vail ap­pre­ci­ated the foot­ball that Oua­chita Bap­tist of­fered.

But each dreamed life­long play­ing for the Ra­zor­backs in Fayet­teville.

So three years apart, even with an OBU schol­ar­ship at hand, both de­fen­sive backs walked on to the Univer­sity of Arkansas.

Young played a full 2015 sea­son as a OBU fresh­man. He recorded nine tack­les in 11 games with an in­ter­cep­tion and quar­ter­back hurry. Then he trans­ferred to the UA and be­came foot­ball el­i­gi­ble in 2017 for for­mer Coach Bret Bielema’s Ra­zor­backs.

In five games on 2017 spe­cial teams, Young logged three tack­les.

The Chad Mor­ris regime as­sumed com­mand in 2018. Young played three games on spe­cial teams with two tack­les. He closed the 2019 spring drills at sec­ondteam free safety be­hind Joe Foucha and com­petes for time this Au­gust pre­sea­son.

Vail grad­u­ated Bryant High in 2018 with an of­fer from the Air Force Acad­emy and a com­mit­ment to OBU be­fore re­al­iz­ing he just couldn’t for­sake his dreams.

He walked on red­shirt­ing on the Ra­zor­backs scout team last fall, broke his foot last Fe­bru­ary and prac­tices now with­out ben­e­fit of spring ball.

Each likely would have played con­sid­er­ably at OBU. Nei­ther ex­presses re­gret.

“I wanted to play against the best com­pe­ti­tion,” Young said. “I had al­ways watched the Ra­zor­backs grow­ing up and I just wanted a more com­pet­i­tive na­ture. It was more com­pet­i­tive here. Once I saw there was a way, I hit it full speed.”

Ditto Vail.

“I was com­mit­ted to Oua­chita Bap­tist,” Vail said. “And then I de­cided, ‘You know, it was al­ways my dream to play foot­ball for my dream team that I’ve al­ways grown up watch­ing,” So I de­cided to come here and play.”

The Air Force call came out of the wild blue yon­der.

“I never re­ally thought about the mil­i­tary,” Vail said. “I respect the peo­ple that do it. There just haven’t been a whole lot of mil­i­tary peo­ple in my fam­ily. So

it wasn’t some­thing I had re­ally thought about. I was re­ally con­sid­er­ing go­ing, but the dis­tance to Colorado (the Air Force Acad­emy is in Colorado Springs). I’ve al­ways been like a home­body not re­ally want­ing to go that far away. And it’s a big com­mit­ment go­ing into the mil­i­tary af­ter. So I de­cided to come here.”

Young still ex­hil­a­rates re­count­ing play­ing his first Ra­zor­backs game.

“It’s definitely been a thrill!” Young said. “My first game was New

Mex­ico State, two years ago … prior to that game I hadn’t been on a game field for a year and a half. So that was ex­cit­ing.”

Vail he rel­ishes even red­shirt­ing on the scout team.

“It was good,” Vail said. “Get­ting big­ger in the weight room and run­ning scout team dur­ing prac­tice. Then in Fe­bru­ary I broke my foot and had surgery. So I’m just now get­ting back into shape. I didn’t get any reps in the spring, but I can’t worry about that. I just have to keep work­ing hard and not worry about things I can’t con­trol.”

Like Young, Vail sees spe­cial teams as his op­por­tu­nity. “I just have to put it (wor­thy spe­cial teams prac­tices) on film to get that op­por­tu­nity,” Vail said. “My foot’s feel­ing good. I’m start­ing to get as healthy as I’ve been in awhile.”

Vail only had last fall’s red­shirt year but it was un­der head coach Mor­ris, de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor John Chavis and de­fen­sive back­field coaches Ron Cooper and Mark Smith.

Young had to start all over in 2018 with Bielema and his de­fen­sive staff


“I just took it as a clean slate and do the best of my abil­i­ties,” Young said. “You get what you give.”

Young pro­fesses see­ing “a lot of dif­fer­ence in this year’s se­condary and over­all de­fense vs. last year.

“Last year we were still get­ting adapted to each other and the new scheme,” Young said. “I feel like the de­fense is a whole lot more com­fort­able with the scheme and com­fort­able with each other as far as know­ing what the per­son be­side him can and can’t do.”

And the se­condary specif­i­cally?

“It’s stronger, faster and

more in­tel­li­gent,” Young said. “With the strength and con­di­tion­ing peo­ple we got a lot of bod­ies that are ma­ture. Coach Cooper made the scheme a whole lot more sec­ond na­ture to us. I feel like there’s a lot less think­ing out there and more re­act­ing.”

Aca­dem­i­cally, both make their mark for the Ra­zor­backs and them­selves.

Young said he’s on track to grad­u­ate in May with a sports man­age­ment de­gree.

Vail as­pires doc­tor­ing his name.

“My ma­jor is ki­ne­si­ol­ogy,” Vail said. “I want to go into pre-med.”

Courier file photo

For­mer Hor­net Cameron Vail, 1, makes a tackle while play­ing for Bryant. Vail is a walk-on for the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs foot­ball team.

Courier file photo

For­mer Hor­net Bren­den Young com­petes in a game while play­ing for Bryant. Young is a walk-on safety for the Hogs this sea­son.



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