July 6, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
There probably was no way to know it at the time, but when Louis Young was a wee lad and his father signed him up for karate, he was getting a jump on his football career.
Surely, there was no way Carol Golden knew what was going on all those years ago when she arrived to pick up her grandson and instead spotted a young ninja.
“My dad told them I was 5, but I was 3,” Young said. “When I was 3, I was holding a sword with 12-year-old kids around and … my grandma was scared to death.”
Young smiled at the telling of that story. He’s quite serious, though, when he says that years of martial arts have helped him become a better football player.
Georgia Tech’s junior cornerback earned a black belt in Tae Kwan Do a few years ago, and in recent years a turn toward boxing as a training method has helped.
“It teaches you patience and discipline,” he said. “A lot of people in my family box. They’re feisty. Boxing helps me in my press-man coverage. I act like I’m boxing, actually jab … like I’m hitting a bag. I would say that the best thing it helped me with is quickness, my hand speed. In Tae Kwan Do it’s constant movement.”
The karate began as a form of self defense. Young said he was always taught never to fight, but he used some of his moves in first grade (or thereabouts) when an older boy and a friend got after Lou while in the school lunch line. “I went off,” Young explained.
With 24 games of playing time in his first two seasons on The Flats, the Washington, D.C. native figures to help give the Yellow Jackets plenty of experience in the secondary.
Fellow junior Isaiah Johnson has 26 games of experience at safety including 16 starts to go with Young’s dozen last fall. Redshirt junior safety/corner Jemea Thomas has played in 27 games, senior cornerback Rod Sweeting in 40, and after missing last season with an Achilles’ tendon injury, sophomore Fred Holton will be in the mix as well.
There are several reasons Young is looking so forward to the start of football practice in a little less than a month. First and foremost, he feels like he knows what he’s doing.
“Compared to sophomore year, I would be in the meeting room with a notebook full of notes. This past spring, it’s almost like everything I wrote down the past two years is clicking,” he said. “Even in the season I was still learning what I was doing.
“Now, I’ve got the Nickel spot down and the corner down. Last year I would be very jumpy or eager to make a play. I’m going to be more relaxed, more focused.”
Although the Jackets will be less experienced in the defensive line than in some recent seasons, they’re going to be bigger up front. Also, as several linebackers have been around long enough to become abundantly familiar with coordinator Al Groh’s 3-4 schemes, Tech’s defense may take a leap forward.
“I feel like each year coach Groh has added more stuff,” Young said. “I feel like we’re all going to be in for a great experience. At the end of the day, I put all my trust in the D-line because they’re going to help us make plays. Our job is to eliminate big plays in the secondary.”
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