It has been a difficult season for the 5-7 North Carolina State football team and Willie Young Jr., who a few years ago picked the Wolfpack instead of Florida on National Signing Day.
On the same day Young signed with North Carolina State, Florida inked a Maryland prospect, Derrick Harvey, who turned out to be a find for the Gators. Harvey helped Florida to the 2006 national championship and later was taken in the first round by Jacksonville Jaguars.
Young, meanwhile, redshirted in 2005 and has since become one of the Wolfpack’s top defenders. He is currently slotted by Mel Kiper as the fifth-best senior defensive end and is the No. 85-ranked player eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft by Scouts, Inc.
Now, there is another Young waiting in the wings who could turn out to be just as talented as his older brother. Avery Young is already a star offensive tackle at Palm Beach Gardens High School and could be more closely recruited than his older brother.
At 6-5 and 265 pounds, the sophomore already has the frame that has top programs around the country drooling. With his long arms, big hands and impressive build, Young should be one of the top offensive linemen in Florida for the recruiting class of 2012.
Young realizes he has a long way to go to realize his considerable potential.
“I’m just going to focus on football this offseason,” Young said recently. “I’m trying to get stronger – improving in the areas I wasn’t as good in this past year. Hopefully I’ll come back and have a better year than I did this season.”
In terms of weight, Young doesn’t have a weight in mind for the start of next season. At one point this season, Young checked in at 273 pounds but he lost some weight recently due to sickness.
“Just adding as much muscle mass as I can,” Young said. “Wherever I end up at, I guess that’s where I need to be.”
Young reports he can press 275 pounds, squat 495 pounds and lift 345 pounds in the power clean – all impressive numbers for a high school player of Young’s height. He will be joining the weightlifting team this spring in an effort to help increase these numbers and in turn help his strength when he returns to the football field next fall.
Being that Young is poised to be the second person in his immediate family to play major college football, it stands to reason that there is some secret to the success of the Young brothers.
“It’s in my genes I guess,” Young said when talking about the talent both he and his brother have displayed on the football field at Palm Beach Gardens High School. “Ever since we were little kids, that’s all we did – play around with the football and talk that this is what we were going to do one day.”
The Palm Beach Gardens Gators won a state championship as recently as 2005, so there is some history of success for the football program. Young is looking forward to restoring that tradition, as Palm Beach Gardens finished the 2009 season with a record of just 4-6.
“(We have to) work hard, and not letting the small things get to us,” Young said of what he and his teammates have to do in the offseason to get prepared for the 2010 season.
In terms of recruiting, there is still time before things start to heat up for Young as college coaches are not permitted to offer high school prospects until Sept. 1 of their junior season. However, that doesn’t mean that schools aren’t expressing interest in Young at this early juncture of his high school career.
Schools like Michigan, Nebraska and Tennessee have already expressed interest in Young, and Avery has his eyes on a number of top programs around the country as well.
“I don’t have an exact team on top right now,” he said. “Oklahoma, Florida, anyone from the SEC, teams from the Big Ten, Pac-10, too.”
And of course, don’t be surprised if N.C. State proves to be a major factor in the recruitment of Avery Young as well.