Though football has led him hundreds of miles away from his hometown, Roshmel Young has found himself back in Northwest Georgia. To hear Young tell it, he didn’t want it any other way.
“It was an opportunity I could not turn down. I was like, ‘I have to do this’,” Young said.
In late June, the Rockmart native posted on Facebook that he had accepted a defensive graduate assistant position with the football team at Shorter University in Rome.
“I’ve always been careful not to count my chickens before the eggs hatch, but they’ve hatched,” Young posted on Facebook on June 23. “People really don’t know how I’ve waited two and a half years, driven a 10-plus hour trip one way, had phone calls not being returned and ultimately almost given up the chance to further myself at this level as a coach.”
Young credits God with giving him the new opportunity as well as Shorter head coach Zach Morrison.
After living in places like Valdosta and Statesboro — hundreds of miles from where he first excelled as a prep football player — Young now returns to make his mark with the Shorter football team.
“When I found out Shorter needed a graduate assistant, I applied right away,” Young said. “I actually had already moved back home while I was waiting during the application process.”
Young will join the Shorter Hawks and help defensive backs and safeties coach Antreal Allen this season.
“I view this as a chance to learn more. I don’t think you can ever learn too much, so I think this is giving me the opportunity to learn more about the other side of the football,” Young said. “I’m trying to help coach Allen in a ‘Robin’ role. You know how Batman needs Robin? That’s what I’m going to be.”
Young mentioned that much of his interest in the position stemmed from Shorter’s uber-talented coaching staff.
“I really like coach Morrison’s ‘Brick By Brick’ motto. You cannot just have a house. Somebody has to be there to lay the foundation, and I look forward to being a part of that,” Young said. “There are coaches on the staff that have played at major schools like Ohio State. Coach Allen played at Georgia State. I am excited to learn from them and absorb the knowledge they have just from being at programs like that.”
By helping out the Hawks, Young will continue learning about the sport that has played a huge role in his life. The 2011 Rockmart High School graduate was a standout on the Yellow Jacket football team, starring as both a quarterback and a defensive back.
“Football was always big in my life from a very young age,” Young said. “My experiences at Rockmart definitely shaped me moving forward. At Rockmart, it was a brotherhood. We were a band of brothers, because we had grown up together and known each other our whole lives.”
Young said he still thinks about his senior year at Rockmart and playing with guys like Josh Cates, Josh Hatch, Ladarion Morris, Khalil Wood, Kendall Adams, and Dakota Hitchcock.
“Some of my best football memories came in our senior year. We beat Cedartown in a game that actually got rained out after halftime. By some weird rule, we won that game 14-0 after one half,” said Young. “Later that year we were able to go on the road and beat Pepperell who had beaten us the previous year. I couldn’t even tell you the last time we had won in Lindale, but we did it. We had the chance to play Calhoun in the region championship — and that didn’t go as planned, but it was still a special season with my brothers.”
At the time, Young had dreams of playing college football. Unfortunately, he only had a few offers.
“There were a few people that tried to shoot down my dreams. They told me that I wasn’t tall enough, I wasn’t big enough, I wasn’t fast enough,” Young said. “I got my opportunity and was able to prove them wrong.”
His opportunity came via a preferred walk-on spot with the Valdosta State University football team. As fate would have it, Young was able to play a part on one of the best teams in Valdosta State history.
“I walked-on at Valdosta State but was able to earn a scholarship later on,” Young said. “I redshirted my first year there and it was a huge learning experience. People try to convince you that there isn’t that big of a difference between high school ball and Division II. That’s a lie; the players are way bigger and very talented.
It was during his redshirt freshman year that the Blazers won the Division II National Championship.
“That was easily the best football team I’ve ever played on,” said Young. “It really was a brotherhood at Valdosta State too, but it was different than it was at Rockmart. At VSU, everyone held everyone else accountable. They would build your confidence up, but they would also tell you how it is.”
Roshmel Young played in 13 games for the Blazers’ 2012 National Championship team, mostly contributing in a special teams role. He was able to play as a wide receiver beginning in 2013, tallying 98 yards and one touchdown on nine receptions. Young started 13 games the following year, finishing fifth on the team with 349 receiving yards and one touchdown. He moved back to special teams during his senior season, starting 12 games in 2015.
Although he started out majoring in exercise physiology, Young realized his passion later on and changed to middle grades education. While he struggled some, admitting that he almost failed at one point, he says he was held accountable and graduated with some awards from the Middle Grades Education program.
“While I was at VSU I got my start in coaching at Valdosta Middle School,” Young said. “They asked me if I wanted to help out and I was like, ‘Heck yeah!’ From there, I moved on to Statesboro High School which is where I’ve been the past couple years.”
Young credits his stop at Statesboro High School as a time when he grew massively as a coach. “I started coaching wide receivers at Statesboro High School under coach (Jeff) Kaiser in 2018,” Young said. “Coach Kaiser helped me learn how to be a better coach and a leader. The year before (Kaiser) came to Statesboro, they didn’t win a single game. His first year (in 2017) they won two games. My first year we won four, and then last year we won five games. We’ve had back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in forever.”
While coaching at Shorter University, Roshmel Young will also be pursuing a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in sports management. He is set to make his collegiate coaching debut Sept. 3 when Shorter takes on Fairmont State University at Barron Stadium in Rome.