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Lake Central’s David Yancey honored, humbled and highly touted

Lake Central's David Yancey runs for endzone for one his two touchdowns second half Friday night against Merrillville Merrillville High

Lake Central's David Yancey runs for the endzone for one of his two touchdowns in the second half Friday night against Merrillville at Merrillville High School. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 11, 2012 10:24AM



Guys like David Yancey get used to the accolades. Talents like the Lake Central quarterback are bombarded with labels — Top This and Elite That and All-This-And-That. There are so many newspapers, so many recruiting outlets, so many websites that have their own lists and rankings and honors, that sometimes they blur together and lose all distinction and meaning.

But not this one.

Yancey was one of eight Hoosiers — the only one from the region — and 400 players nationally to be nominated to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

The accolade is great. The possibility of playing live on NBC on Jan. 5 is amazing. But the event’s pedigree is what sets it apart.

“I truly appreciate it, and it goes beyond the playing field,” said Yancey, a senior-to-be at Lake Central. “It goes to honoring my dad, honoring my grandfather, and honoring my country.”

Yancey’s father, Haakon, is a disabled veteran who served 13 years in the Army, stationed in Germany, Tennessee and Colorado before being honorably discharged in 1991. Yancey’s grandfather, Harrison, fought in Korea.

“I’m very appreciative,” David Yancey said. “This means a lot.”

Of course, it means a lot beyond the prestige, too. Yancey’s trying to get himself a college scholarship at the best school possible, and exposure events like this one are the best way to get noticed by recruiters. That’s why Yancey’s family sent him all the way to San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American Combine last December.

That’s the way of the modern recruiting world — you have to pay a lot of money and travel a lot of miles to get noticed by a lot of colleges.

“Look at what happened with Ike Spearman with us,” LC coach Brett St. Germain said, referring to his linebacker who first committed to Ole Miss, then to Eastern Michigan. “There’s no question a ton of doors opened because he did the combine circuit. There was a day when you told kids, ‘No, you don’t have to go to all these.’ But now, they’ve become so important.”

Yancey entered that All-American Combine as just another kid with little recognition beyond his own community. He left it as one of the top athletes in the country.

That’s because Yancey was picked as one of the Top 11 skill position players at the combine, and one of the top two running backs.

“I was very happy and excited,” Yancey said. “It was shocking.”

So far, Yancey has scholarship offers from Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan and Western Kentucky, and he’s starting to get on the radar of BCS schools. As a guy who grew up in the Midwest, he’d love to play in the Big Ten. But he said he’ll go wherever the best fit is.

“I really don’t have a dream school,” he said.

Or even a dream position. He’s a quarterback in high school — though, as St. Germain pointed out, he’s essentially a running back playing quarterback in the Indians’ ground-based offense — but he’s being recruited mostly as a tailback and as a safety.

Technically, he’s listed by recruiters, and even the All-American Bowl, as simply an “athlete.” A fitting description for the supremely gifted Yancey.

“I’ll do anything,” he said. “Whatever helps my team. I’ll play quarterback, running back, defense, whatever it takes.”

While being listed as an athlete can help a player get recruited in some ways — he’s attractive to a wider range of schools, each with different holes to fill — it also can leave some schools wary that he doesn’t have a natural position with years of experience behind him.

St. Germain would like to move Yancey to running back full time next season. He showed glimpses of that late last season, with Alec Olund moving under center. If Olund continues to develop as a quarterback over the summer, it could allow Yancey to slide back to tailback.

That could allow him to put up even bigger numbers than last year, when the Duneland Conference Co-MVP ran for 1,345 yards and 16 touchdowns. Which could, in turn, get him more recognition, more scholarship offers — and more of a chance of landing on the actual All-American Bowl team. Only 90 of the 400 nominees make the team. The selection committee travels the country watching games and counting scholarship offers before making its decision.

“I don’t know if they e-mail you in advance or just sneak up on you,” Yancey said.

With Yancey, it shouldn’t matter much. Given his talent, his character and his team around him next season, he won’t have many off weeks. So he’ll surely have — pardon the expression — an army of suitors.

Yancey will listen to every one.

“Any school that wants me,” he said.

Can there be any that won’t?



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