On Tuesday the Raiders signed free agent safety, Usama Young and thus continuing a theme of "under-the-radar" type players brought in to fight to prove their worth.
Young has been a reserve safety and special teamer for most of his six seasons in the NFL. He, like several other new Raiders, has something to prove. He relishes the opportunity to do just that.
"I'm excited," said Young of get a chance to prove himself on the rebuilding Raiders. "In Cleveland I was under the radar, in New Orleans under the radar, all the way back to Kent State I was under the radar. I enjoy flying under the radar and getting out on the field and snagging folks. Joining this organization at this time in my career, I think it's a perfect fit."
He identifies with the recent plight of the Raiders who themselves have been flying under the radar. He sees both he and the Raiders showing up on the radar soon.
"I'm excited to work in that secondary and cause some turnovers - get the ball take away and help our offense out. I know it's one of those things you hear all the time ‘rebuilding' and rebuilding usually takes some time but playing for Coach Allen, he's not trying to take several years to get this thing going so I'm looking forward to immediate success."
Young is quite familiar with Dennis Allen. He was Young's position coach with the Saints when they won the Super Bowl. He and Tracy Porter both joined the Raiders to have a chance to play for him again.
"I talked to [Tracy Porter] probably the day after he went out to visit... He seemed pretty excited about going and playing for coach Allen and I said that's funny because I remember being in those defensive back meeting rooms and you understand him, you know what he's about, he knows what you're about and that's rare to get when you're in this league for a while. You go back and play for a guy that's coached you, was the reason that you were drafted, and I got similar excitement too because I know he's gonna get the most out of his players."
Young said once he realized the Browns were not bringing him back and he was a free agent, coming to the Raiders was an exciting possibility. He spoke to his agent about it even without known the team had released Michael Huff at the free safety position. He just wanted to play for Dennis Allen and on the Raiders regardless of the position. Though, the bulk of his experience in the NFL is as a Free Safety.
"I've played every position in the secondary. I was drafted as a cornerback and moved to play free safety and then some injuries happen, you go into strong safety and some other injuries happen, you go to nickel and dime. I think there's several positions back there that are interchangeable but more so free safety and strong safety. You got a guy like Tyvon Branch, a guy who I've watched throughout his career, he plays great in space and also in the box and I think he excels at both. Myself, I've been a free safety the past three years and I enjoy playing in space and roaming around and hitting people and attacking the ball and getting as many takeaways as possible. I would like to play any position but I'm more excited about just getting out on the field, whether it's free safety, strong safety, cornerback, kicker, punter, long snapper, I'm just excited to get out there and play with a guy I've got history with in Tracy (Porter) and I've watched Tyvon over the years. I'm just excited to get out there."
Young's play on the field has been under the radar but he has been making a name for himself off the field - in a good way. He started his career in New Orleans working in the community in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, then relocated to Cleveland where he helped with inner city youth and the homeless, and now he brings that same community outreach to the city of Oakland.
"I've expressed how blessed I am to play this game, not only to play it at the highest level but you can mold some young minds, you can help out on so many different levels and I've always tried to make it a point to make the most out of my position being in the NFL. Of course my first thoughts are on the field but while I'm on the field and when I go back home I look to reach out to the youth. So, going out to the schools and trying to improve different youth or teenage mindsets, getting them to focus on their goals, that's something major to me. And also something in my heart is the homeless. To see how many people overlook them. Different people have different situations for several reasons and I'm not even in it to look for that, I'm just trying to help the next man. I look forward to serving a new community."
The Raiders signed the 6-0, 200 pound safety to a one-year deal. We know he has the right attitude for this new Raiders philosophy so If he can show up on that proverbial radar on the field, the team will be in a good position to bring him back next season.