He’s listed at only 5-foot-8, 165-pounds, but Devrin Young hopes to stand out on the University of Tennessee football team in 2011.
Despite his size, Young’s ability earned him a Volunteers scholarship, and coaches are hoping he can be a playmaker both on offense and in the return game.
During his standout career at Knoxville’s Bearden High School, Young gained 7,433 all-purpose yards and scored 83 touchdowns. He had 2,271 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior.
He committed to the Vols hours after receiving an offer last September, and after signing in February he was a regular spectator at UT’s spring practices, taking in everything he could to get a head start on his June arrival.
Young was honored by the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame as one of three male high school athletes of the year Thursday, and he spoke with the Times Free Press about adjusting to college, summer workouts with strength coach Ron McKeefery and how he can help the Vols this season.
The Vols report Monday for preseason camp.
Q: How’s the adjustment been not living at home? You’re very close to your mom. How’s she handled you not being home?
A: “The biggest adjustment was just sleeping in another [room] with somebody else next to you. It’s not really been that bad. At first I was hearing from her a lot. She was just checking on me, and she’d always ask me if she did good with getting me prepared. I just keep telling her, ‘Yeah,’ but she’s cool about it now. I mean, I’m on my own, I’m 18, I’m just taking care of myself now. She’s pretty good about it.”
Q: How have the summer workouts been?
A: “They start off tough, but you adapt. You just realize that this is something you love and you’ll make the most of it and you’ll work hard for all of it. It’s pretty good.”
Q: Do you feel like you are prepared for camp? What have the older guys told you to expect?
A: “The older guys have shown a lot of love and open hearts towards us younger guys. I don’t really know what to expect. This is my first SEC fall camp. As far as being prepared, I’m prepared.”
Q: Do you think you’ve impressed some teammates so far?
A: “I’m just learning the plays, adapting to the speed. It’s not really taken too long with that. It’s just learning how to play my role. I think I’ve earned just a little respect from some of the guys. You don’t really earn all of it until the pads come on. It’s 7-on-7; it makes everybody look good, so to speak. When we’re running sprints and stuff, it’s obviously tough running up there with the faster guys, but it really doesn’t start to really matter until the pads come on.”
Q: What is your role going to be this year? Are you looking at returning kicks or punts?
A: “Obviously the fastest way on the field for a freshman is special teams, especially here. If I was to get on the field, hopefully that would be the first place, and make a big impact there. [The coaches] talk about different packages, but first they just want to see if I can take a hit.”
Q: What improvements have you made this summer?
A: “I’ve put on 15 pounds in my bench [press], like 70 on my squad. We’ve got over 28 guys squatting more than 500 [pounds] now. When Coach Mac got here, there was only one guy squatting over 500. Speed wise, I’ve gotten faster and quicker.”
Q: Who are the other players that have impressed you?
A: “I don’t want to leave anybody out, but some guys that have really just wowed me would probably have to be [freshman linebacker/defensive end] Curt [Maggitt], [freshman tailback] Marlin Lane, [junior safety] Janzen [Jackson]. We’ve just got some freak athletes.”
Q: How receptive was the team on Janzen’s return? Has he caught on conditioning wise?
A: “It was never like animosity whatsoever. It was welcoming, almost like he had always been there so it’s no big deal. Janzen is NFL-bound. As soon as he has [his conditioning], he’s going to have a great season this year and he’s going to be out of here making money. It’s as simple as that.”