By Corbin McGuire
If K-State football’s true freshman receiver Joshua Youngblood could travel back in time one year and tell his 17-year-old self what was coming, he’s pretty sure he wouldn’t believe it.
The shift in his recruitment, the Power Five opportunity, the early impact on the field, the snow, the cold. None of it was on his radar.
“I’m playing P5 football and doing alright for a freshman, so it’s just crazy,” he said, as K-State (6-3, 3-3) hosts West Virginia (3-6, 1-5) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., on ESPN. “I had to sit down and really think about it, how blessed I am. It’s just been a crazy journey.”
Youngblood, a Tampa, Florida native, received little to no Power Five recruiting interest until after his senior season at Berkeley Prep. Even before then, his offer sheet was small.
One coaching staff, however, that showed strong interest was Chris Klieman‘s at North Dakota State. Youngblood said Klieman, along with offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham and receivers coach Jason Ray “all recruited me hard.”
Still, Youngblood had offers from FBS schools.
“They thought I was a playmaker and an explosive athlete, but they didn’t know if they could get me to North Dakota State,” the 5-foot-10 receiver said. “So, once they got to Kansas State, it was a wrap. They knew I was going to come here. It’s just a great little story.”
“Tighten up the details… Keep playing hard”
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) October 9, 2019
The story only got better, too.
Youngblood has played in all nine games this season. He’s caught seven passes, including six in Big 12 play.
His first career touchdown — a 4-yard run on a jet sweep — helped K-State upset then-No. 5 Oklahoma and made him the first Wildcat true freshman to score on the ground since Logan Dold in 2008.
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) October 26, 2019
Youngblood notched his second career touchdown last week with a 98-yard kickoff return at Texas, a play that nearly propelled K-State to a come-from-behind win. That play also pushed him to the Big 12 lead in kickoff return average and made him the first K-State true freshman since Tyler Lockett (2011) to return a kickoff for a touchdown.
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) November 9, 2019
“Once I signed, I put it in my head that I’m going to come in here to play right away. I’m not trying to redshirt or nothing like that. I’m trying to contribute right away. That’s why I chose this school. I knew I could come in and play,” he said. “The season’s been great. I’m not going to say I expected everything that’s happened, but I worked hard for it. Just to see some of it’s paying off is great to see.”
Youngblood’s score at Texas was in front of several family members, including his mother and siblings, who made the trip to Austin. They had not seen him score in person since high school.
“It was just a great moment,” Youngblood said.
Moving nearly 1,500 miles away from family was not easy, he said. Youngblood admitted that he got homesick early on at K-State. His purpose — making the most of an unexpected opportunity — got him through it.
“But when you know why you’re here — I say God brought me here for a reason — and you understand you’re here for a reason and you’re on a mission,” he said, “then you have to put your feelings aside and just get to work.”
Youngblood heard similar advice from K-State alum and Kansas City Chiefs receiver Byron Pringle, a fellow Tampa native whom Youngblood watched growing up. The two talked when Youngblood decided to come to K-State. Pringle actually traveled to watch Youngblood and K-State top Kansas in Lawrence.
“He gave me some advice over Instagram, and I saw him at the KU game, talked to him. It’s just great having him around,” Youngblood said. “(He said to) just keep your head down and work. There’s going to be a lot of distractions in college, but you just have to keep your head down and work.”
Which is exactly what Youngblood has done. He’s focused on football and school, sprinkling in the occasional video game session. He’s embraced the unexpected and the unknown, including his first experience with snow, which he recorded.
“It was crazy. I didn’t know it was that cold, though,” he laughed of his introduction to snow. “Being in a new environment, sometimes you have to get out of what you’re used to and try something new. It’s great that I’m here.”
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) October 31, 2019
Source: Kansas State Sports