Miami Hurricanes react to Malek Young’s career-ending injury

Malek Young runs with the ball after making an interception against Notre Dame on Nov. 11, 2017 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Miami was reacting Saturday evening over a report that standout cornerback Malek Young may be done playing football because of an injury sustained in the Orange Bowl.

According to CanesInsight.com, Young’s career “appears to be over” because of a neck/vertebrae issue. A UM spokesperson would not confirm the report Saturday evening.

The reaction of Young’s coaches and teammates all but confirmed it as sad, but true.

“God has (a) better plan,” Young wrote on Instagram and Twitter.

Young, a sophomore from Fort Lauderdale, intercepted two passes and broke up eight last season. He made 43 tackles (3.0 for loss). As a freshman in 2016, he contributed 23 tackles and one interception.

A former three-star recruit out of Coconut Creek High, he committed to Mark Richt’s staff at Georgia and switched his pledge to Miami despite Ohio State’s hot pursuit. As a freshman, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound speedster played on special teams and started the final five games at cornerback. He retained that starting spot in 2017, and was arguably UM’s most consistent performer in the secondary.

He would have entered spring drills in March as one of UM’s leaders on defense. He and fellow senior-to-be Michael Jackson would be the most experienced players in the cornerback room, which also includes senior Jhavonte Dean and sophomore Trajan Bandy. UM signed several cornerbacks to compete for playing time — four-star recruits Al Blades Jr., Gilbert Frierson and three-star D.J. Ivey — and are recruiting five-star Tyson Campbell and others.

To get on the playing field this fall, all would have to prove they were better than Young.

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz saluted Young, calling him a “great warrior and a true Cane.” He noted Young debuting UM’s turnover chain, the viral sensation of the Hurricanes’ 10-3 season that ended in the Orange Bowl. After Young’s interception in the Sept. 2 season-opener against Bethune-Cookman, he was the first to proudly wear the Cuban link necklace on the sideline. In an image rapidly shared widely on social media, Young coolly sat on the bench with the gold chain and glittering ‘U’ pendant resting on his No. 12 jersey.

Cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph tweeted that Young was “one of the most talented but humble players” he has coached.

“It’s not over,” he added, “it’s only the beginning.”

Hurricanes safety Jaquan Johnson dedicated the upcoming season to him. Kareem Reid, Young’s coach at Coconut Creek High, said he was “sick to [his] stomach” over the news. Campbell, one of the recruits UM is chasing, offered prayers.

“God got a plan for you big bro,” Campbell wrote, echoing Young’s post.

Young would be the second Hurricane in the last three seasons to sustain a career-ending neck injury. Safety-slash-linebacker Marques Gayot, from Park Vista High, injured his neck in a practice collision with a teammate in 2015. He was unable to gain medical clearance to keep playing.

In 2016, a neck injury ended the career of Miami Dolphins safety Isa Abdul-Quddus.

Former Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya likely spoke for all of Young’s people and a legion of Hurricanes fans with this Twitter testimonial:

“12 will be great at whatever comes next, best believe that!”

 

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