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Recruiting Reset: Zion Young is ready to step into stardom at Mizzou

The Atlanta native was a steady contributor at Michigan State. Will he develop into something more as a Tiger?

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Remember one week ago? I do... barely.

One week ago, Zion Young became the eleventh official member of Mizzou’s 2024 transfer class, replacing the recently committed and de-committed Isaiah Hastings.

While it’s always exciting to type “Alabama transfer commits to Mizzou,” Young is clearly a more practical add for the Tiger staff. His familiarity with the staff — Drinkwitz recruited him during his high school cycle in 2022 — and the instability of Michigan State’s program was all Young needed to set his sights on Columbia and finally don the black and gold that he was always meant for.

As a true freshman and sophomore in East Lansing, Zion Young was a steady contributor and nailed on starter for the Spartans, a rare thing to say for such a young player at a high major program. He’ll come to Mizzou hoping to establish himself as something more: a player capable of following the long lineage of Mizzou pash rushers who barreled their way to the NFL

Where he fits: Far be it from me to say what a player is or isn’t capable of, but Zion Young’s measurables — 6’6” at 265 pounds as a sophomore — scream defensive end. He would’ve been the tallest player on the defensive line last year, one inch above and 30 pounds light of Darius Robinson, who bounced to the outside during his final collegiate season. Young has good straight line speed and quick hands, meaning he should be able to stick as one of Mizzou’s starting ends if he can add some weight in the gym.

Of course, much of that is predicated on who the Tigers hire as their defensive coordinator and how the staff shakes up from there. We know Al Davis prefers smaller, meatier interior linemen, and Kevin Peoples liked longer, leaner players off the edge. But things could change depending on who is manning the defense next season. Time will tell.

When he’ll play: You know the mantra: You don’t transfer to sit on the bench.

Young, a sophomore starting at a Big 10 school, won’t be merely filling a scholarship in Columbia. He’ll be on the field early and often for the Tigers, who will depend on his veteran experience to bridge the gap between last year’s crop of talented linemen and the new group that is being developed by Drinkwitz and [insert name of future Mizzou defensive coordinator here.]

Syndication: Lansing State Journal
Zion Young has the measurables to excel as a defensive end.
Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Stat Stuff: In two seasons at Michigan State, Young tallied 47 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He played in 20 total games as a true freshman and sophomore and was a locked in starter for the entirety of the 2023 season.

What it all means: Mizzou lost five defensive linemen to eligibility lapses and one (DJ Wesolak) to the transfer portal. With Young added to the fold, the staff has now added four linemen via the portal and four in the high school recruiting class, including five-star Williams Nwaneri and four-star Jaylen Brown, both of whom could see playing time right away. The numbers will likely see some more shuffling after spring ball, but signs indicate that the staff (as currently constructed) is comfortable with where the line stands.