Jacob Younger came to FIU with beyond-superb quarterback credentials from high school, throwing for 1,800 yards and running for 600 more during his senior season at Titusville Astronaut.
When he arrived on campus, as is so often the case with high school stars, he was somewhat lost in the crowd.
And it was a crowd. Particularly at quarterback.
“As soon as I got here, I saw there were about six other quarterbacks,” Younger said.
The following year he and the coaches decided on a course of action — he would become a receiver.
That was fine with Younger.
“I wanted to get on the field and that was the fastest way to do it,” he said. “Since there were so many QBs, I figured I would get to play faster by switching. There were just too many quarterbacks in front of me.”
Being a quarterback in high school and constantly working with receivers was a benefit in making the switch. He knew how receivers thought and reacted. His first game as a freshman, he didn’t make the travel squad. “But halfway through that season,” he said, “I started. It was crazy.
“Switching was a good move for me.”
And also for the Panthers and coach Mario Cristobal.
“Even when he was on the scout team, he did a great job,” Cristobal said. “And over the years, he has made a lot of key catches for us.”
A couple of those key catches came in FIU’s last game, a 28-20 victory over South Alabama. Younger, a muscular 6-2, 195-pound senior, had a team-leading two catches for 62 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown pass from Jake Medlock. For the season, he has 21 catches for 310 yards with three TDS that ties him for the team lead.
Growing up in Titusville wasn’t the most exciting of times for Younger, except for the space launches. “And even those,” he said, “I saw too many of them. There’s not too much to do in Titusville, but I do love home. Let’s say Miami is a little faster-paced.”
Just like most FIU players, Younger is dismayed but not defeated by a 2-8 season so far.
“It has been tough,” he said. “Nobody expected us to be like this. Being 2-8 right now, that’s crazy. You wouldn’t have imagined that in a million years. At the same time, it is what it is. You go through hard times, you have to accept it and do your best with it.”
There are two games left for FIU (2-8, 1-5 Sun Belt Conference) to negate some of the bitterness of the season. They play at Florida Atlantic (1-4, 2-7) on Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. in the Shula Bowl followed by the season-ender against Louisiana-Monroe (6-3, 4-1) on Nov. 24.
Asked about his final two college games, Younger said, “I want to make everything in these last two games be strong. It’s sentimental and it’s important to me.”