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Tech's Young Succeeds Despite Doubters

Tech strong safety Chris Young

ATLANTA — Commitment, desire and dedication are all attributes of any great leader, and for any team, the ability to succeed depends on the availability of strong leaders. For the 2000 Georgia Tech football team, junior strong safety Chris Young will certainly be one of those people.

Although not a highly sought-after prospect out of East Coweta High School in Senoia, Ga, Young saw playing time as a true freshman and established himself as one of the anchors of the Yellow Jackets’ defensive unit as a sophomore in 1999, finishing second on the team in tackles with 89 total stops, including a career-high 15 tackles against North Carolina. Unlike many Division I football players, Young did not begin playing the game until his freshman year of high school, as he was “too little” to go out for the junior high squad.

“I didn’t play in middle school because I was too little,” said Young. “I didn’t start playing until my freshman year and I was on the ninth-grade team, I didn’t even get on the varsity that year.”

While motivation has never been hard to find for Young, after high school he found even more when he was snubbed by a number of other collegiate programs.

“Georgia said I was too little and Florida State said I was too small and had slow feet,” remembered Young. “Georgia Tech is the only school that recruited me and showed an interest in me because I came to their camp. Georgia always wanted the top people in the state, and I understand that, but I feel like Keith Brooking was the same way. He didn’t get recruited that highly, and he came here to this wonderful program and got stronger. The same thing has happened to me. I’m really glad I didn’t go to those other schools because I don’t think I would be the way that I am right now.”

Despite the doubts of other schools, Young came to Tech and has quickly established himself as the leader of a youthful Yellow Jacket defensive unit. Because of that youth, he has embraced his role and plans on doing whatever needs to be done to be a successful leader.

“My grandmother has been paralyzed for 20 years and she’s still going at it.” says Young. “She never gives up and that’s my goal.”

“My role is to lead,” said Young. “I think a lot of people are expecting me to do it and I’m going to try my best to do it in every way that I can, on and off the field. I’m going to try and get the job done.”

With that added responsibility, Young feels that harder work will need to come in a number of areas besides just on the football field.

“I maybe need to work a little harder outside of the football team, maybe studying my plays a little harder, or I can do better in the classroom as well,” he added, “I’m going to lead them in every aspect possible. Anything I can do to help somebody learn something, I’m going to do it. If it’s making more tackles, I’ll make more tackles, if it’s making interceptions, I’ll get more interceptions, I’m going to do whatever it takes.”

Young credits his competitive nature and strong will to his grandmother and mother and says that he looks to them as inspirations for his life on and off the field.

“My grandmother has been paralyzed for 20 years and she’s still going at it. She’s been sick and on her dying bed, and she keeps competing. She never gives up and that’s my goal,” said Young. “My mom is the same way. She’s a single parent with two kids and she’s doing whatever it takes. She’s gotten me here, and she’s never given up on me. My goal is to never give up on them.”

Perhaps playing the part of role model for his teammates will be a new one for Young, but it is not a role that he is unfamiliar with. While wanting to set an example for the Georgia Tech football team, Young also is looking to be an example for his 6-year-old brother.

Young celebrates another great defensive play with his teammates.

“I want him to learn from me. I learned from my grandmother and mother, and I want him to learn from me,” said Young. “It means a lot to me to have my mom and brother at the games. My brother’s first plane flight was when we played at Wake Forest last year. Even though we lost, he enjoyed it. I saw him in the stands. There weren’t too many people there, but I saw him.”

As the 2000 season approaches, doubters have once again entered Young’s daily life, with a number of people not picking the Yellow Jackets to be among the nation’s elite teams. Young disagrees.

“My whole attitude is to get better, keep people from talking too much,” said Young. “The team’s attitude is to show people that the rankings don’t mean anything. I think we’re a whole lot better than the rankings have us. Our attitude is to win, everybody wants to win and everybody wants to get better.”

With Chris Young leading the way, anyone that doubts the Yellow Jackets desire and ability to attain both of those objectives hasn’t met this “little man” from Senoia.


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