D.J. Young: Home Sweet Home
Feature from the Sept. 4 edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine.
Sept. 7, 2010
By Brittany McCormick, MSU Athletic Communications Student Assistant
Michigan State senior left tackle D.J. Young finally decided to come home.
The Lansing native played his first two seasons of collegiate football in Ohio at Bowling Green before enrolling at Lansing Community College in 2008 to become eligible to play on the same field that his father did.
"Making the decision to come back here, it was an easy one but it was a long one at that," said Young. "I made this decision to be closer to home to my family and friends. That was a big step. A lot of them couldn't make it down to my games. Being close was important because I was born to be a Spartan."
In order for Young to be eligible to play for the Green and White, he needed to complete 46 credits in one year, since many of his classes from Bowling Green did not transfer. This is quite a challenging obstacle, considering an average course load for a student is 30 credits in one year.
Young said, "It was a tough process, but it was easy for me to decide what to do. There was a lot of depressing nights. It was hard. There were a lot of times I asked myself why did I do this? Why didn't I do this in the beginning? But it was all worth it in the end. Football kept me motivated."
And it's a good thing he stayed motivated. Young started the last 11 games of the 2009 season at right tackle. He enters the 2010 season as a starter, but this time in a different position.
There's no cause for concern, however, because it's evident that Young handles change very well. Originally while transferring colleges, he also switched from playing on the defensive line to the offensive line. During his time at Bowling Green, he played defensive tackle. After arriving in East Lansing, he began on the left side of the offensive line during spring practice in 2009, made the switch to right tackle for the regular season, and will now return back to left tackle.
"It was harder for me to make the original switch of moving from the right side of the field to the left," said Young, whose first start as a Spartan came at Notre Dame last year. "Going back to the left side, I feel more comfortable. I feel more at home. I feel better at running and pass blocking."
"D.J. has been solid," head coach Mark Dantonio said regarding Young's performance during preseason camp. "He's solidified his position. With (Joel) Foreman and D.J. there (on the left side of the line), it gives us a lot of experience. Those guys have been on the field in game time situations and have made the adjustments. I think that's a positive for them."
Young grew up down the street from MSU with green and white in his blood. He learned about Spartan football firsthand from his father, Duane Young, who was a tight endat MSU from 1987-90 and played in the NFL for six years.
In his time as a Spartan, Duane was part of a Rose Bowl Championship team and won two Big Ten titles.
"I believe we have the best teammates. I enjoy being around all the guys and I love being here. I'm going to miss it when I leave."
"My dad made it easier for me," Young said. "He didn't necessarily force football on me, I just knew what I was going to be doing and I enjoyed going to his football games. He tells me what I need to do and what I need to work on."
Young admires his father's success, both on the collegiate and professional levels, and hopes to mirror his own senior season after what his father has accomplished.
"My expectations are that we need to aim high," said Young. "It will be really good if we can get to the Rose Bowl and a Big Ten Championship. Going out and winning a bowl game will be good for this program."
Young's father isn't his only family member that comes to watch him play. One of his most avid fans is his three-year old daughter, Aniya, whose biggest wish is to get a hug from Sparty.
"She came to a couple of runs we had and took charge a little bit, giving guys some water," he said. "It's a warm feeling knowing that she's watching me play. She looks forward to every single game."
Football for Young has, and always will be, a family sport. Once he graduates with his degree in sociology, he plans to make football a part of his career as well. He wants to become a high school counselor and coach a high school football team. He certainly has a wealth of knowledge and experience that will make him successful at coaching the sport that he has gone through many lengths to make sure he plays.
"I believe we have the best teammates," said Young. "I enjoy being around all the guys and I love being here. I'm going to miss it when I leave."
GETTING TO KNOW D.J. Young:
FAVORITE TV CHANNEL: ESPN
FAVORITE SPOT ON CAMPUS: Library
FAVORTE HOBBY: Hosting cookouts
FAVORTE SPORTS TEAM: Pittsburgh Steelers
FAVORITE FOOD: Macaroni and cheese
FAVORTE SPORT OTHER THAN FOOTBALL: Soccer
This feature was originally published in the Sept. 4 edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine.