“I couldn’t have imagined being in this position if you would have asked me a couple of years ago,” Young said. “I took the journey of a junior college athlete and I was fortunate enough to be here at Arizona State. It feels good to accomplish the things I set out for myself. Just being able to go back home and have a proud family there greeting me will be the greatest feeling in the world.”
Young’s supporters have good reason to be proud. The Auburn, Wash. native finished first on the team in tackles (103), second in tackles for loss (16.5) and third in sacks (7.5) after making the switch to the WILL linebacker spot in 2013.
Young’s senior campaign earned him a spot on the Pac-12 second team voted on by the coaches around the conference, an award that he was happy to accept though it didn’t live up to the goals he set out for at the beginning of the season.
“I had high expectations for myself,” Young said. “But I’m not going to knock the fact that I did get recognized for what I was able to do this season. It’s just a great honor to be noticed by the people and that second team honor really meant a lot to me.”
Young was asked by Todd Graham and the coaching staff to make the switch from SPUR linebacker to the inside position to make up for the loss of Brandon Magee, and he did more than expected. He most certainly filled Magee’s shoes, and according to Graham, his presence on the defense will be missed.
“Wow, one of the toughest guys to replace,” Graham said of Young. “He filled in for Brandon Magee and did an unbelievable job. Chris is a great football player, a great Sun Devil and it was a great move. He did a great job all year long; I don’t think we would have had as much success we had defensively if we didn’t have him there at WILL linebacker.”
Because he was only at ASU for two years, Young wasn’t able to truly establish a legacy like some of his teammates were able to after four years of Sun Devil service. But, he certainly made his mark on an exceptional team that could notch the program’s first 11-win season in 17 years.
In such an outstanding year, there were plenty of bright spots for each specific player, and the team as a whole. But for Young, when asked what he thought the defining moment of his Sun Devil career, he looked to one game in particular.
“Probably the UCLA game, I still can’t stop thinking about it,” Young said. “I made a couple of good plays there towards the end and it was just amazing to see everybody’s reaction to it after the game.”
Young earned the Pac-12 defensive player of the week after his 13 tackle, three-sack performance in Pasadena. His two fourth quarter sacks and game-ending tackle secured the win for the Sun Devils and the Pac-12 South division crown in the process.
Saturday marked the final practice in Tempe for Young, and with the Devils’ bowl game a little over a week away, his time in the maroon and gold is almost up. Yet, for now, he’s not focused on his collegiate career coming to a close, just Texas Tech and the Holiday Bowl.
“It’s probably not going to hit me until a couple of weeks from now,” Young said. “I’m just trying to get this eleventh win and go out with a bang. That’s what I’m more concerned with at this point.”
Texas Tech has had an interesting season to say the least. The Red Raiders won their first seven games of the season and were ranked as high tenth in the nation before a five game losing streak to end the year. Over that five game stretch, they gave up an average of 48.6 points a game.
One element that has remained constant throughout the season, however, is Red Raiders’ potent passing offense. Texas Tech finished the regular season ranked second in the country in passing yards a game with 392.
“They’re a tempo team,” Young said. “They’re good at spreading people out and it’s going to take a lot of running to the ball and being poised with our assignments throughout the game. Those are going to be the major factors that we focus on.”
Mike Leach, the current head coach of Washington State, coached at Texas Tech for 10 years. Young mentioned that the Red Raiders’ offense reminds him a lot of Washington State and their air raid attack because of the framework that was left in Lubbock from Leach’s tenure.
Earlier on in the year, the Devils trounced Washington State 55-21 and held the Cougars’ air raid attack in check. Due to their understanding of how to defend the specific offense, Young feels that the Devils have a great shot to win the Holiday Bowl.
“Their whole scheme of offense and everything, it’s very familiar for us,” Young said, “and we have a great opportunity to go out here and get our eleventh win.”