TAMPA – Berkeley Prep ATH Joshua Youngblood enters his sophomore season taller, quicker and wiser. After making his debut on Buccaneers varsity last year, the 5’10”, 155-pounder is aiming to get into open space this season.
Youngblood has grown 2 1/2 inches and has packed on 10 lbs. of muscle since his freshman season ended. He wants to get to 165 lbs. before August.
The rising sophomore totaled 256 all-purpose yards and a touchdown last season, which included 11 receptions for 186 yards. He’s going to play both running back and wide receiver on top of his duties as a kick returner alongside starting senior running back Gordon Stetson. Youngblood will mix in at cornerback much like he did last season.
Last season the Bucs went 6-4 and missed out on the playoffs with a 0-2 record in 3A-District 4 play. Youngblood calls Dominick Ciao a great head coach. Ciao enters his 10th season at Berkeley Prep after taking over in 2007. Prior to that, he was the head coach of Jesuit (1986-2002).
“He [Ciao] really cares about the players,” Youngblood told Prep Sports Scouting. “He once told me ‘no football games comes before any player.’ He won’t force anyone to play if their hurt and he understands the situation. It’s great to have a role model like him.”
Getting Youngblood into open space is something he says Ciao has done plenty of this summer.
“He understands the type of athlete that I am. He’s doing everything that I can to make sure I’m doing my job and getting the ball in my hands.”
In terms of his confidence, Youngblood says that came this summer as he could see himself getting better while training with his quarterback [Davis Koetter]. He says he started believing in himself.
Youngblood admitted that he was very nervous on his first day on varsity last season. However, his comfort level is at an all-time high.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but after a year experience, I know what to prepare for. I was blessed to play last season.”
He calls scoring touchdowns a good thing, but he wants to continue to work on his blocking for his backs and his overall route running. Youngblood had a 23-yard touchdown grab against Miami Community Charter last season and a five-yard touchdown against St. Pete Admiral Farragut in this year’s spring game.
Youngblood says he’s learned a lot from current and former Berkeley Prep stars including Jacob Mathis, Addison Grams and Gordon Stetson.
On Stetson: “Gordy is a great guy. He’s my role model. He helps me on and off the field. He tells me when I’m doing things good and the things I need to work on.”
On Mathis and Grams: “I learned a lot from Jake. He’s my mentor. Addison Grams as well by showing me how to play my position.”
Despite losing some key graduating seniors, Youngblood believes in his current group.
“This year we have a lot of leaders. We know what we have to do. We play a lot of good teams this year and we know we have to get it done.”
Beginning his football career at age 5, Youngblood started out as a running back and cornerback. He doubles as a guard on the varsity basketball team at Berkeley and calls being an athlete year round great.
His brother Caleb is a rising senior quarterback at Hillsborough. Joshua says he’s learned a lot from his older brother in terms of work ethic.
“He [Caleb] worked his way up from the depth chart to become the starter and that is what influences me to work so hard.”
As for Youngblood’s biggest strengths, he says that is his speed and the fact that teams overlook him.
“A lot of teams put their smaller cornerback on me. They don’t think I’m that good of an athlete until the ball is thrown my way. That’s what makes me dangerous.”
He wants to make sure he catches every pass that’s thrown to him this season and to become a better blocker and overall leader.
Although Youngblood has no offers yet, he still has plenty of time to prove his worth. He’s generated interest from two Division-II programs Valdosta State and Ouachita Baptist.
A trio of people in his life serve as his role models, his mom, uncles and late grandpa.
“Right before he passed, my grandpa taught me a lot of things, I consider him my greatest role model. My mom sacrifices almost everything to get me to and from Berkeley. She works a long job and she knows that education is important…
“My uncles come from a football family. They do anything to make sure I do well in the classroom they help.”
Youngblood’s ultimate goal is to make it to the NFL. In college, he wants to major in either sports medicine or sports business with the dream of owning a football team or becoming a sports doctor.
You can’t teach pure speed and this kid is packed with that. In an expanded role this upcoming season, I fully expect him to thrive.
Josh Youngblood is a humble and determined kid who is starting to figure out how special he can be. He’s getting bigger and faster and that’s a scary fact since he’s only going to be a sophomore. Teams should start taking him seriously.
Favorite player to watch – Tavon Austin, Percy Harvin
Playlist before games – Kendrick Lamar, Tupac
Favorite movies – Rudy
Favorite TV shows – Family Guy
Fun fact about you that no one knows – “I’m a drummer at my church. I’ve been playing since I was 11. My uncle taught me.”
Nickname(s) from teammates or friends – “Youngblood”, “YB”
Game film: Youngblood’s Hudl tape
In case you missed it:
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.