Kenny Young represented the defensive side of the ball, and definitely owned up to the fact that football “is not going to be all rainbows and sunshine”. He said that you really end up finding out what kind of person you are when you face adversity, and talked over and over about character on and off the field (which is probably why he is a Good Works Team nominee).
Speaking of character, what an amazing young man. He really embraces he number 42, and is trying to live up to the legacy of Jackie Robinson. Young is going to be the last player to wear the number since it was retired, and definitely knows the significance. He discussed Jackie’s achievements in breaking the color barrier and how it has impacted both he and his family. He works each and every day to be the best possible representative both on and off the field.
Work ethic is very important to Young. He said the new players are hungry and has been very impressed by freshmen like Jaelan Phillips and Darnay Holmes. Like Quessenberry, he too is excited about not going to San Bernardino and utilizing the new Wasserman facilities this summer.
I asked him about playing last year with a less than stellar offensive unit that often had difficulties in games, which left the defense on the field a disproportionate amount of time. Fans were concerned that the defense was getting gassed in games where they were left on the field to pick up the slack. In true Kenny Young fashion, he actually said it brought the team closer together. While the offense struggled, the defense supported them the best they could and had no problem filling in the gaps. In fact, he even said he used it as an opportunity to be excited about getting more time on the field.
We’ve all heard that football players don’t pay much attention to preseason lists, but Young is actually proud to carry on the tradition of being a candidate for both the Butkus Award and the Lott Impact Trophy (specifically, the Lott trophy, which also takes off the field achievements into account). He is proud to follow in the footsteps of linebackers like Anthony Barr, Myles Jack, and Eric Kendricks, and actually still communicates with them regularly. He sees these nominations as an honor and loves the fact that UCLA is legitimately “Linebacker U”.
In response to a question from Bruins Nation editor Joe Piechowski, Young gave his feelings on concussion issues and the recent findings about CTE. He talked a lot about playing in a manner to protect himself and not purposely hurting others when he tackles (specifically mentioning that last year he was slapped with a targeting call). He basically said it comes with the territory and there are things in life we all choose to do and not do. He equated it with a police officer being in the line of fire, and didn’t seemed all that concerned with the possible effects down the road (even when Joe mentioned the recent events surrounding former player Brian Price).
Here are Kenny Young’s interviews from today. First up is Kenny’s primary media session.
Next, we have Kenny’ post-lunch interview session in two parts.