Darrel Young Interview Transcript
- Updated: July 18, 2012
Last fall I had the opportunity to spend some time hanging out with Redskins Fullback Darrel Young.
Young who had a pretty solid 1st season as the Redskins starting FB is not only a tremendous athlete but a great dude as well.
We always love getting to catch up with Darrel and last night he joined Kiel and myself on the SOW Podcast.
For those who prefer to read instead of listen to our awesome show I thought we would share the transcript from his segment.
Ray Smith: D, thanks for joining us on the show tonight.
Darrel Young: Thanks for having me.
RS: What’s it like now? You’re in your 2nd season as a starter; this is your 3rd season with the team. Talk a little bit about coming in to camp this year, especially considering you guys didn’t have all the OTAs and stuff last year. How are you feeling, man?
DY: To be honest, for myself it’s a dream come true just to be in this position. Washington has a lot of history, and a lot of history with great backs who came through, potential hall of famers. But it’s just a blessing to be where I am. Because as a team, we’re going to be a lot better in terms of not making the little mistakes and stuff. Last year, like you said, we didn’t have OTAs in the offseason, and [we had] the lockout and stuff, so we were just trying to find an identity. And we found an identity early, but we couldn’t hang on to it due to injuries and other situations off the field last year, but I’m excited about what’s to come this year.
RS: One of things that’s really so exciting for us that this is a football team who has developed a very young core group of guys, on both sides of the ball. You had an opportunity to learn the fullback position from Mike Sellers who is very well respected around here. Talk a little bit about what it was like to learn from Mike, and some of the things that he went out of his way to teach you as you were coming up and getting ready to take over full time.
DY: It says a lot about Mike as a person and his character, just to develop a young guy like myself, because basically I was going to take his position, but he was kind of grooming me. You know, Mike a great guy. He a great family guy, and like I said, what he did is priceless to me, for the game of football. He’s like an older brother. I look to him still for references and just to basically see what’s going on, on the field. So he basically told me everything that would happen before it would happen. Mike is something special that…not even a coach could tell me, in terms from a football standpoint. He’s a great guy, and just to see him get released, from a personal standpoint, it kind of bothered me, but at the end of the day it’s a business, and I have to move on from it. I hope he gets a shot somewhere else. I know he’s 36, but he plays like he’s 26.
Kiel Maddox: Alfred Morris comes in, he’s kind of like you, he played a little bit of linebacker, I guess in high school and what not, and then he converted in to a running back. Do you share a lot of similarities? Are you kind of helping him work his way in to being a running back now? He was telling us that he loves to make contact. Instead of people trying to tackle him, he makes sure he goes out there and tries to lay them out. I remember that Giants game in New York, you ran through their line pretty easily on that goal line. Is that something that you look forward to as well, running over people?
DY: Oh yeah, that’s the best part of the game! Having a linebacker mentality, that defensive [mentality] has definitely prepared me to play the fullback position. Fullback is a game of angles, and you have to have a little more finesse than at linebacker in terms of approaching guys, but just that mindset, running into a guy, just trying to take him–not trying to hurt him–but basically let him feel your pain.
Alfred Morris is a great young guy; he’s going to be a great back. He’s smart. He listens, which is key, [that’s] the biggest thing in this league. [Morris has] got good feet on him, just watching him in OTAs, seeing him step up in pass protection, with no pads on, he has something special. He’s got a gift. I don’t know what it is yet but he’s here for a reason. I know Shanahan does a great job of drafting backs late in the draft and finding free agent guys. All the backs you look at on our roster are under-rated, but everyone has made a mark somewhere in their career, whether it be in college or high school. We’re waiting for that breakout year for all of us.
RS: We had Alfred Morris on the show, right in the middle of you’re guys’ OTA, right around Memorial Day. And one of the things that really stood out to me was how, this is a guy who–even in his rookie year–we thanked him for coming on over Memorial Day weekend, and he said ‘Man, I’m glad to talk to you guys, because during the week, I don’t talk. During the week, we’re about business and we’re about football stuff”. We asked him when he came on the show, asked him point black, we said, ‘Are you coming in to be a running back or are you going to be in the mold of a fullback?’ Because coming out of the draft, there’s a lot of people who said he was going to be more suited for fullback. And he kind of said ‘You know, I think I’m going to be a running back, that’s what I’ve always done’. But then five says later or however long it was, we’re out at camp, and he’s taking a lot of work with you after practice, catching balls from the Jugs machine. You guys seemed like you were pretty close, and I believe we actually came up and talked to you guys then. Is he splitting carries so that he’s being groomed to do a little bit of everything, to try and find his place?
DY: You know what? The history of coach Shanahan will answer that question. You look at Peyton Hillis, you look at Spencer Larsen–was a linebacker, he still is, he’s with the Broncos, now he’s playing fullback*–but you looks at those guys, Shanahan has prepared guys for whatever situation may come. You go back to some of the games, Olandis Gary and Mike Anderson were the only backs left in some of those games. Terrell Davis, they are the only backs that dressed. The fullback was Howard Griffith, and Howard Griffith would take snaps at running back, and people don’t know that. So that’s basically what Shanahan preaches to us during the week – that you have to know everything. If they need me to go play receiver then I have to know what I’m doing on this concept, so I think it’s just more the scheme. But [Morris] is playing both right now. That’s just Shanahan and the history of what he does.
*Spencer Larsen signed with the New England Patriots on March 22nd, 2012. He is officially listed as a FB on the Patriots website but is expected to play some LB as well.
RS: We talked to Niles Paul on the show last week and he told us a little bit about the switch he’s making from WR to TE. You just brought up a litany – a huge list of guys that Shanahan has done this [with], and put people in different positions to see the field. Let me ask you: personally, as a guy who came in undrafted, I believe you got picked up on a futures deal, your original deal, correct?
RS: So you came in as a futures guy, a guy who a lot of people probably didn’t know a lot about you, you came from Villanova, you’re a LB that comes in, and to your shock you find out you’re being switched to fullback. What does it mean to you to have a coach that can see something inside of you personally, and then find a way to put you in a position, to not to just play some or to just make the team as an undrafted guy? I mean, you’re now the starting fullback of the Washington Redskins. What does it mean to you to have a coach like Shanahan to see something in you and to have your back to put you in position to give you that type of an opportunity?
DY: It just goes to show that’s he’s a fair coach and he wants guys that are hungry. Like I said, you go back to the history of Shanahan again, look at all the free agent guys who started for him, guys who are off the streets, who were cut or never drafted. I think it was very humbling to play linebacker and then get released, and now step in to the role of starting fullback. It’s a dream come true, but to sum up everything with Shanahan in one word, he’s just ‘fair’. He gives everyone an opportunity to catch on. No one can say that they came in to the Washington Redskins organization with Mike Shanahan and say that they didn’t have a fair chance. That goes for defensive backs, and even look at Niles Paul, with Chris Cooley and Fred Davis being there, but Niles Paul is taking a lot of snaps with Logan Paulsen, so everyone, it’s an equal opportunity organization.
RS: So you guys have had, obviously, a super interesting offseason to say the least. You’ve got changes all over the field, and especially to the running back position, you guys being back a guy like Tim Hightower, who we have brought this up for weeks and weeks and weeks, how much it means to the fans and how much it means for an organization to get to the point where, you know, Tim turned down an opportunity with the New England Patriots, who were just in the Super Bowl, and have been to the Super Bowl in what seems like every year. To come back and be a part of what this team is doing, what does it mean to this offense to have a guy like Tim returning to the team this season?
DY: Tim’s a great guy. He’s our leader right now in the backfield. He [inaudible] back there. Tim comes with a great work ethic, he played in the Super Bowl at young age, and he knows what it takes. He’s a I-AA player who got drafted in the 5th round, but what Tim brings to this team, he’s our power back, he’s our starting back if you’re going back to last year, because I don’t know who’s going to start right now. Like I said, he’s a great guy and he’s the leader in the room, because he’s the oldest. We ride on Tim because he’s an inspirational person. Every team had that vocal leader, and Tim is that [player] for the Redskins, even though he’s only been there for one year. His voice stands out. He speaks well. His preparation for the games is ridiculous every week. People talk about how Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis and other guys watch film. Tim Hightower is up in that category because he knows everything that’s going to happen. If you look he’s one of the greatest, one of the best pass blocking backs in the game right now, so what he brings to the table, you can’t put it on paper.
RS: You talked a little bit about having a couple of different backs that have been in and out. For you as a fullback you’re lead blocking on these guys sometimes, is it difficult to have to know the styles of all three guys, because there’s a little bit of difference in style. I think that Helu is a little faster, a little but more burst, and as you said Hightower is a really sold pass blocker, and he can still pick up his yards when he needs to. But you know when there’s a different guy behind you does it make you approach things a little bit differently, or is it pretty much the same for all of them?
DY: It’s pretty much the same for all of them, because our scheme is a zone scheme, so backs basically make the cuts off of what they see. Like you said, Helu’s a little bit faster, but Hightower is a more of a downhill back. Helu’s a little bit more of a finesse back, so he does things, they’re different in a lot of different ways. But at the same time when you get the ball, everyone is running for their life, so you can’t really tell. I think he angles of the defenses change too. Teams, obviously, teams game plan and scheme for what backs do what, who is in the game. Even Royster, he came in and [created] a change of pace last year, at the end of the year when we had a 200-yard game last year. So I think we’ve seen a lot of different just in terms of the offense, to answer your question, it’s not too much difference. Everyone’s fast in the league. You just gotta know what play calls are going to come in with who’s in game. That’s the biggest difference.
RS: For us on the outside looking in, obviously, this team is a lot different right now, and there is a ton of excitement. I remember last year when we were at Brian’s house, we were talking about how quarterback has been shaken up for the last couple of years. What does it mean to you as, now a third year guy, who has survived the McNabb stuff and survived not knowing from week to week whether its going to be Rex or John last year – and I’m not asking you to talk bad about these guys because I know they’re teammates of yours – but what it like to kind of have some stability where Shanahan came out early in OTAs and said ‘Robert’s going to be our guy, we’re going to move forward with him, and that’s what we’re on a game plan’. It is a little bit easier to kind of know that it’s a sold thing moving forward for once?
DY: I wouldn’t say it’s easier, but definitely helps in the preparation of the game because Rex, Beck and McNabb were all so different in many different ways, but they were all competitors, and that’s what you want from your quarterback position. You couldn’t ask for anything else, because all those guys were out there on Sundays, positive, wanting to win the game. I definitely think it helps in terms of preparation, in terms of knowing what type of system you’re going to get that week, as opposed to, ‘ok Beck’s going to start, and we know he can run a little bit better than Rex’. It’s definitely helpful. I think it takes a lot of stress of the linemen as well.
RS: A minute ago when you were talking about the running backs, you said that the defense were able to take different angles and play different guys, a different one versus the other. Bringing in a guy like RG3 who has a diversity in his game, who has the ability to be explosive on the ground, explosive through the air – do you think that’s going to change how defenses are able to game plan against your running game specifically? Is that going to change how you’re going to be used a little bit? Is that going to change how the running backs are used?
DY: You know what? It might change. I couldn’t tell you what the coach’s game plan is week to week. They threw a lot of stuff at us in OTAs. If you look at it form this standpoint, the running game is always been 10 on 11, offense vs. defense, but now it’s 11 on 11with a quarterback that can run. I think that opens up the playbook a little bit more. Defenses will have to take a step back with their safeties as opposed to putting 10 in the box when the fullback is in the game. So I think it definitely helps a lot with the changes a little bit in terms of what we can do in the running game. I hope it opens up dome more holes, and I hope I’m in the game. I don’t know what the game plan calls for week to week, with any changes or anything, but I hope I’m in there.
KM: You were a Giants fan growing up, right?
DY: Yes I was.
KM: Did it mean something scoring your first touchdown again them?
DY: Absolutely, for more personal reasons. I went there and worked out, and some things were said that, I didn’t feel were comfortable in my mind and I didn’t want to settle with it, and I feel like I had a chip on my shoulder when I played against the Giants. Some things when you talked about … [inaudible] my family with what was said, but it’s just that I’ve got something to prove when I play them. Every week I have something to prove, but more so with the Giants, being a home town guy and I didn’t get a look from them, so it was something special when I scored that touchdown.
RS: We talked about that Giants game for the season opener last year when we were at Brian’s house too, and I remember telling us that you were pumped for being the 9/11 anniversary, but it was a really special game because your brother was coming in from overseas, from the war, correct?
RS: Talk a little bit about what it was like to have your brother there. Because everyone was expecting the Giants to run over us, just being honest. To open week one, and if you’re a Giants fan, and I’m sure HE was a Giants fan–not that Sunday though–talk about that game and what it was like to be with your brother and have that family time.
DY: It was definitely a memorable moment. Somehting I’ll never forget. I loved just to see his face when the flag dropped, and just to know that the people were clapping for all the troops. To know that he was actually over in Afghanistan, where guys were away form their families, it was an honor for me, to actually walk out and see him in the stands, appreciating everything they do for the country, my family, and even himself. Words couldn’t describe how I felt about that moment, that being my first game as a starter too, so as you can imagine my emotions were high and my adrenaline was pumping. But I was more excited to see his face then to know what it would be like to be a starter on that day.
RS: I remember that game. We were actually just watching some of the clips from that game, showing the pre-game ceremonies, and they had the American flag the size of the football field. There were all kids of people at the game that were involved with the 9/11 tragedy. Just to have that patriotic event, and then to have your brother there who is [stationed] in Afghanistan, who is in active service, I can’t imagine what that’s even like. But it’s incredible for us to see high character guys like you, who family means something to you guys, especially this week when we’re hearing about all this craziness around the league when players are getting in fights or getting pulled over for DUIs. So to see that kind of stuff is huge for us, and I just want to thank you for at least seeing a little bit behind the curtain with your family stuff, because I know that’s a close and personal thing. So thanks for sharing that with us.
DY: No, thank you for asking. There’s not too many people who really care or want to ask about it, they just want to know, “oh, we’ve got a war, ok”. So I appreciate you guys…thank you for having me.