2023 Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team: Mt. Lebanon’s Connor Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2023 | 4:20 PM
Watching game film of last season was Mike Collodi’s way to learn quickly about the Blue Devils roster he inherited after Mt. Lebanon hired him as football coach.
No. 55 caught his eye.
At 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, lineman Connor Young certainly looks the part of a future Division I athlete, but it wasn’t his size alone that impressed Collodi. He saw Young chase after ball carriers and make tackles on plays that weren’t headed his way.
On one screen pass, Young chased a running back across the field to make a tackle.
“It’s not every day you see that from such a big lineman, who has that motor every single play,” Collodi said. “He never takes a play off, which is pretty awesome. When you watch him on film, he’s running 40 or 45 yards, coming from behind and getting in on a tackle.
“Defensive linemen normally don’t do that.”
Young just calls that fundamental football, saying his coaches from youth league to high school taught him to have a never-slow-down mindset.
“You never know how a play can turn out,” he said, “so you always run to the ball, no matter what.”
That motor earned him first-team all-conference honors in WPIAL Class 6A. Now a rising senior, the Navy recruit is expected to anchor Mt. Lebanon’s defensive line this season and start at offensive tackle.
His college future is on defense, and Collodi said he sees Young as a player offensive coordinators will need to prepare for this fall. He already has faced his share of double teams, so Collodi intends to move him around the defensive line to keep offenses guessing.
“I love that,” Young said. “I think I could play anywhere on the field. If they need me to play cornerback, I’ll do that. I think I’m athletic enough.”
Most likely, he’ll play more at defensive tackle, his projected college position, after largely playing end last year. Collodi said the Blue Devils could switch between even- and odd-man fronts to add confusion.
“I want to move Connor around so teams don’t get a jump on where he’ll be,” Collodi said. “He’ll be interior. He’ll play defensive end. He’ll be a little bit of everywhere.”
Young received around two dozen Division I college offers before committing last month to the U.S. Naval Academy. The Midshipmen already have five former WPIAL players on the roster, including two from Mt. Lebanon.
“It’s a big hotspot for the WPIAL,” Young said. “I loved everything about it. It’s the best academic institution with some of the highest level of football you can play. That kind of sold me.”
He also had offers from a number of schools in the Ivy and Patriot leagues, along with Army and Air Force.
When Collodi in March asked the Mt. Lebanon players to vote for a leadership council, Young was one of two seniors elected. A coaching change can be a frustrating experience for any senior class, but Collodi credited Young’s leadership for easing his transition.
“I just wanted to make sure, with the new coaching staff and all, that we would be fit to play and 100% together,” Young said. “It’s gone really well.”
Collodi was hired at Mt. Lebanon in February after eight seasons at Elizabeth Forward. He replaced Bob Palko, who resigned after four seasons and a state title in 2021.
“From the start, you could tell Coach Collodi and Coach Palko were very similar in some ways, which helped (the transition),” Young said. “Now we’re just kind of perfecting our craft. We’re improving every single day, and it’s great to see how far we’ve come.”
Collodi said Young has provided valuable leadership, both on and off the field.
“He’s the total package of every single thing you’d ever want,” Collodi said. “That’s obviously why 20-some schools gave him scholarships.”
Committed to: Navy
College offers: Penn, Dartmouth, Columbia, Lafayette, Fordham, Army, Duquesne, Bucknell, Maine, New Hampshire, Richmond, Holy Cross, Colgate, Furman, Lehigh, Stony Brook, Bryant, Air Force, Robert Morris, Georgetown, Citadel, Brown
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
Tags: Mt. lebanon
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