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Talented linebacker Youngquist committed to Oklahoma
Bryce Youngquist certainly looks the part.
At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, the California native is not the biggest football player, but he still sets an imposing figure and is the ideal specimen of what an outside linebacker is modeled after in this era of hybrid defenders.
The physical part, however, is only a small portion of what has made Youngquist a highly sought-after prep prospect. It’s his ability to wreak havoc on opposing offenses that really makes scouts sit up and take notice.
“First and foremost, Bryce is an awesome kid — very humble, very genuine,” said Kevin Price, Youngquist’s head coach at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga. “He’s got a solid work ethic and wants to do well. He’s a good kid. He’s the type of kid that makes you want to do more for him as far as being a coach.”
It’s that different outlook on life that seemed to play a big hand in how Youngquist decided to commit to Oklahoma over the other major programs that were hot on his trail.
“Pretty much what I'd like to say is that every player is different,” said Youngquist. “Everyone has a different feel, everyone likes different things. I am a person that likes it simple. I don't need a lot of flashy stuff. I don't need big-city stuff. I'm just a real simple person that likes quiet places.
“So when I went to Oklahoma, it was quiet, peaceful. No big city. It feels like a place that I can just go and be successful on and off the field.”
Youngquist may approach recruiting differently than other prospects because he wasn't an automatic blue chipper early in his career. While many players are tabbed as superstars-in-the-making as early as their the freshman seasons, Youngquist was still vying for playing time as a sophomore.
“I was battling for a starting position with seniors during my sophomore year. It was pretty difficult,” he said. “ I just wanted to try and do everything I can — just help the team and just make plays as much as I can.”
When that sophomore season came to a close, Youngquist didn't rest on what he had done. With football becoming more of a year ’round game, he started to put in offseason work that would pay dividends down the road.
“It was after my sophomore season that I started to get attention,” said Youngquist. “I put together a highlight film of about 20 plays or something like that from my sophomore year. I sent them to colleges.”
The young linebacker also started going to camps. Wherever the top players in the country were gathered, Youngquist was there competing against them.
“Without going to the camps, I would not have gotten the recognition like I have now,” he said. “It was the camps and putting together the highlights from my sophomore year that have helped me get recognized.”
The first school to contact Youngquist was Arizona State, which just happens to be his mother’s alma mater. Up to that point, the thought of being a top prospect had not really made a full-time home in his brain just yet. But after more letters and calls started to come ib, Youngquist realized he had the potential to make it at the next level.
“He has tons of physical talent,” said Price. “But I think his motor is his strength. The dude is all over the place. He can stop, redirect, find the ball. He moves around. That's his asset. He brings that playmaker ability.”
Youngquist’s offseason success carried over into his junior campaign with the Grizzlies. He became a full-time starter and one of the best players in California. Rivals.com has him ranked as the No. 15 outside linebacker in the country and No. 32 overall player in California.
“I've just been playing my heart out on the field and doing everything I can to help my team,” said Youngquist. “Just trying to perform the best I possibly can.”
One game in particular epitomizes the type of player Youngquist can be and what he brings to the table.
“I had a game last year against Silverado High school where I think I had 19 tackles, two forced fumbles and like two sacks,” he said. “Oh yeah, and a blocked punt. I am more of the type of person who just gets focused. I felt like they were running ball a lot of times. I knew it was crazy.”
The Grizzlies needed every stop in the game as they defeated Silverado 35-33.
Of his 19 tackles, 16 were of the solo variety.
His ability to stop the run and punish ball carriers is Youngquist’s calling card.
“I'd say my strength is probably the run game or the blitz game,” said Youngquist. “Those are my strongest points. I pretty much use my size and speed to my advantage. I can stop running backs from getting yardage. Or playing as a linebacker, I can use my speed on the outside and slow them down. It helps the other 10 people around me. When you're pretty fast it slows down people with the ball. It makes them think twice. It pretty much helps everyone around me.”
Conversely, Youngquist knows he has to work on his pass coverage skills. It's an element of his game he used the offseason to continually improve upon.
“(Youngquist) shows the burst to come off the edge and cause disruption as a blitzer,” said one recruiting analyst. “Times his jump and his first-step quickness allows him to beat blockers to the set point versus the pass or overpower with his great momentum. Has the speed and burst to handle underneath coverage assignments at the next level.
“Youngquist is a playmaking linebacker who has the ability to stuff the run, get after the quarterback, as well as be effective in coverage. Lacks ideal height and length at this stage and his frame will need to develop and add more weight as time goes on.”
Yet, that didn't stop him from once again getting noticed at camps. It was at the Rivals camp that Youngquist really drew the attention of Bob Stoops’ OU staff.
“Oklahoma came into the picture about five months ago,” said the young prospect.
“What happened was I went to a Rivals camp. I think I got the Linebackers MVP in Nevada. That's when I had offers from like Oregon come in. And Oklahoma. I had Fresno State, San Diego State. Wisconsin, as well. It was crazy.”
Other offers poured in from places like Washington State, Tennessee, Northwestern, Oregon State and Arizona State. But his final decision came down to two programs — Oregon or Oklahoma.
“It was actually pretty difficult because all those programs that recruited me,” said Youngquist. “They all are going to have to know at some point that the recruit is going to have to make decision. When it came down to it, I just wanted to do it in the most appropriate way. I didn't want anyone to get mad or anything. I just chose my top five, took all my unofficial visits.
“It was a very crazy experience. Now that it's over, I'm really thankful.”
Many factors went into Youngquist choosing the Sooners over the Ducks. Along with the style of defense that Mike Stoops runs being important, the campus atmosphere was paramount to someone who wants the full college experience.
“I'm a simple friendly person who loves to talk with people and interact with people,” added Youngquist. “I just want to be a person who can help people everywhere. I feel like I just want to be compassionate with people and help people out in general — just be a friendly person.”
And a great college football player.
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the OU-Texas Preview issue of Sooner Spectator. To subscribe, call 405-364-4515)