ORONO, Maine — One of the interesting matchups during the University of Maine football team’s first scrimmage on Thursday morning at Morse Field in Orono involved wide receiver Devin Young going up against cornerback Katley Joseph. Both are seniors.
Neither one played in the abbreviated four-game spring season as Joseph was recuperating from knee surgery while Young opted out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this was their first live contact in 21 months.
The Black Bears will certainly benefit from having the two of them back.
Young was the team’s third-leading receiver in 2019 with 41 catches for 593 yards and four touchdowns, while Joseph was second on the team in pass break-ups that season with seven and seventh in tackles with 35.
Both players have a ton of experience and will supply the Black Bears with quality and depth on each side of the ball. The team is coming off of a 2-2 abbreviated spring season, and faces an uphill battle after being picked ninth out of 12 teams in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason poll.
Young caught a pair of touchdown passes from back-up quarterback Derek Robertson during the scrimmage.
The Binghamton, New York, native had 33 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown and ran the ball 19 times for 163 yards during UMaine’s CAA championship run and first ever Football Championship Subdivision semifinal appearance in 2018.
Joseph, who is from Ottawa, Ontario, was involved in some tackles and pass breakups and helped the No. 1 defense shut down the running attack of the starting offensive unit. Joseph had 34 tackles and 12 pass breakups along with an interception in 2018.
“Devin had to shake off some rust,” said UMaine head coach Nick Charlton. “Football is a game of repetition. He made a couple of plays and I was pleased with that. Katley is a legitimate all-conference corner in this league. He is playing at a pretty high level so far.”
“It’s huge any time you get two starters back,” said wide receiver and captain Andre Miller from Old Town, who followed up a 60-yard reception from starting quarterback Joe Fagnano with a seven-yard TD catch on the next play.
Young and Joseph said it was difficult to sit out the spring season and watch the team’s four games on television.
“I know I could have had a big impact. I talked to some of the guys to try to get them motivated,” Joseph said.
Young said he found himself coaching while watching the games.
“It was definitely tough,” said Young, who also admitted it was difficult getting back into the swing of things.
“But it feels good. I’m starting to learn the team and everything,” Young said. “I made plays today but I want to be perfect. I want to make sure I’m doing things right every single time. Now that I’m older, I’m taking on a different role. I want to help everybody else.”
Sophomore Montigo Moss, son of NFL Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, caught a TD pass from Fagnano on a slant route across the middle, bouncing off a tackler to carry the ball into the end zone. He also hauled in a pass from Robertson that set up Freddie Brock’s seven-yard TD run.
Xavier Scott, a wide receiver, had the best run of the day, a nifty 20-yarder, and Charlton said he will be the new “move guy” who they will shuffle around different positions to get him the ball.
On the defensive side, linebackers Xavier Nurse and Ray Miller, a transfer from Campbell University in North Carolina, were among the standouts. The line, featuring Josh Lezin, Justin Sambu and Jacob Tuiasosopo, stuffed the run and got good penetration on passing plays.
Freshman defensive back Abdul Stewart returned an interception for a TD.
“We were very competitive on both sides of the ball and the special teams. I was very pleased about that,” Charlton said. “We made some plays in the passing game but we didn’t run the ball well enough. The defensive line did a great job at the line of scrimmage.”
He said the fact the offense and defense both did things well and neither dominated the other “is a sign we have a good football team.”