Kenric Young is the youngest wide receiver on the Utah football team, but what he lacks in age, he makes up for in determination, heart, and hard work. While Reggie Bush was becoming a human highlight reel at USC, Kenric Young was in his hometown of Gainesville, Florida watching and working to become the next big star from the panhandle and make his mark in the same electrifying way.
Young had plenty of motivation. His mother, Lanu Perosi, kept his head in the books. She also worked very hard to make sure her son had every opportunity to accomplish his goal of playing Division-I football.
"Seeing my mom break her back to make sure we had the money for me to play football, to go on recruiting trips and those types of things were my motivation to make it," Young said.
Young played both ways* for Gainesville High School. He had 22 receptions for 450 yards and six touchdowns as a senior.
Young is also an accomplished sprinter. How accomplished, you may ask? In the 2013 3A Florida state track meet, he placed third in the 400 meters, second in the 400 meters at the 3A region 1 meet with a personal best 47.68, third in the 400 meters during the FSU relays and numerous others. Basically, he. Can. Run.
As a team, we want to be remembered in the PAC-12, we want a banner with our names on it like coach Scalley does. - Kenric Young
By the time he entered the fifth grade, Young had made up his mind that big time football was his goal. Growing up watching his brother succeed in every sport he played gave the younger Young the inspiration to excel as an athlete.
"My brother was an all-around star," Young said. "He was good at everything he did, and I wanted to follow after him. It motivated me."
Young took a particular liking to football and the physical nature of the game.
"I like to hit," he said. "That’s why I’m trying to get my weight up. I like being physical with 200-pound safeties. I like getting in there with them. That’s what I’m working on this offseason, getting stronger so that I can be a bigger, stronger receiver."
Like most Florida athletes, Kenric was in high demand. With offers coming from schools like Nebraska, Duke, Marshall, and numerous others, he found a home at Utah.
"Coach Kalani was the biggest reason I picked Utah," Young said. "From the day he offered me, I wanted to come here. When I got here, Coach Sitake was my support. He helped me out and made sure that I was adjusting. He always told me if I needed anything, he was there for me. Losing him was hard, I mean, he was a father figure. He told me why he left, explained it all to me, and I understand his decision, but it was hard. He told me that Utah was a great place for me to be and that there are big things in store for me here, and I believe him."
Although the coaching changes have been hard for him, he told me that he has plenty of support left. Dennis Erickson, for example, has seemed to move in to that father figure role for Kenric. He said Coach Erickson is funny and light hearted. He told Kenric and the other Florida boys to come to him with anything, even if it’s just to talk, and Young says he does that often.
Young listed a lot of things that ultimately led to his decision to come to Utah; such as, Kalani Sitake, the way the city looked through his window on his recruiting trip in the middle of January, and the current players on the team at the time, to name a few. But the catalyst was the relationship he forged at his high school bowl game with fellow Utah commit and teammate Monte Seabrook.
"When we met, we clicked instantly," Young remembered. "We had so much fun at the bowl game, we ended up being roommates. By the end of the bowl game weekend, I told him I was going to Utah."
As a freshman, Young saw limited time during the 2014 season. After the injury to Dres Anderson, it was assumed that Kenric would be a viable option in a dangerous receiving corps, but Young isn’t worried about that. He’s focused on 2015 and his opportunity to be a premier player. He has the skill set and work ethic to make it happen. He just wants the opportunity. He feels he can become the deep threat Utah will need with the losses of Dres Anderson and Kaelin Clay. He feels that his physicality separates him from the other receivers and that he can be among the best at his position in the Pac-12.
Things have been turbulent on the hill as of late (to say the least), but Young says it’s still a family.
"It’s most definitely a family," Young said. "It’s been that way since day one. As soon as I committed, everyone from the coaches to my teammates, to the fans made me feel welcome and like I belonged here. Everyone makes you feel like that."
"Personally, I want to become a premier player on the team and make the dean’s list," Young said when asked about goals for 2015. "As for my group, we want to become a complete group and be the best group on the team. As a team, we want to be remembered in the Pac-12. We want a banner with our names on it like coach Scalley."
Utah football finds itself in a transitional place, losing, arguably, two of the best guys two ever play the position in Clay and Anderson. They need someone to step up, someone to show the ability to make plays and help lead the team in a very tough league, and Kenric Young has the opportunity to be just that.
You can follow Young on Twitter @AllAroundStarr
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*All stats and highlights courtesy of Hudl.