Oliver "Tre" Young is hoping to launch Round 2 of his professional football career.
That’s why the inaugural season of the Carolina Spartans, a Lowcountry-based semi-professional football team, was so important to Young, a former football star at Burke High School and S.C. State.
Young, who was signed by the Carolina Panthers as a free agent in 2010, hopes playing for the Spartans will open the door to another shot at the pros.
The Spartans went 1-7 in their inaugural season, which wrapped up last month. But coach Terry Jackson saw some good things on the field and is already prepping for the team’s second year in the Independent American Football League, a semi-pro league that boasts more than 40 teams.
“It was tough from the very beginning, but we stayed the course,” Jackson said. “We have a lot of leaders who have done this at a high level before and they keep us together through the frustrations.”
Young is one of those guys.
A wide receiver in college, Young was cut before making the Panthers' 53-man roster. He didn't give up on his pro football dream, joining the Arena Football League. He played four seasons with a Washington-based team before a broken ankle sidelined him in 2014.
“That was tough and kind of discouraged me,” Young said. “But I’ve been working out and feeling good. At the age of 33, I feel 23.”
After a season playing quarterback and some defense for the Spartans, Young is gathering video and plans to make a pitch to any AFL team looking for a wide receiver.
Young's video highlights could include several other recognizable names from the Lowcountry.
Also on the team are Josh Alston and Ricky Thornely, both members of Timberland High's 2014 state championship team. Taborious Reed won a state championship at Fort Dorchester in 2015. Two years later, Stratford’s Harry Gressette was named to the Blue Gray All-American Bowl.
“It’s a good thing when you got guys out there who know what they’re doing and working hard,” Young said. “It’s a pretty solid group.”
Jackson agreed, and hopes he can add more depth to the roster ahead of next season. The 2020 season starts in March but practices are already slated for next month.
“We don’t get paid for this, and guys have families and full-time jobs,” Jackson said. That means these guys really want to be here. It’s literally for the love of the game.”
For information on tryouts, league fees and other details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.