The Arkansas State defense held FIU to only 289 yards Saturday night, and the DB wearing No. 11 had people checking the roster asking, "who is this kid?"
In his first-ever start for the Red Wolf defense, freshman Sterling Young recorded a career best of seven tackles and one sack — one big, momentum-shifting sack.
Young's sack on FIU quarterback Wesley Carroll in the fourth quarter resulted in a third and long situation that FIU couldn't convert, forcing them to punt. The very next ASU drive ended in a touchdown, making it a two-possession game and giving the Red Wolves a boost of momentum that pushed them through the rest of the game.
All this sparked by a freshman, who was thrown into an unexpected starting position on game day, stepping up to make big plays.
"He's probably not gotten as many reps as some other people have in the last 10 days we prepared, but you know I listened to all the calls in the defensive head sets, and they were praising Sterling quite at bit," Freeze said.
Having stepped in for suspended A.J. Hills, Young was an example of the confidence Freeze spoke of in the press conference regarding the entire team. He said they have a great confidence and understanding that there will be adversity.
"I don't think it was a rally cry because we were down a team member or anything, I just believe that we understand that there's gonna be adversity in life, and in this game, and there's gonna be adversity within the course of the game," Freeze said.
Freeze, grateful for and thrilled to have a young player like Young to step up and make an impact, said Young was ready to leave Arkansas State in the spring. He had been experiencing some homesickness, as any freshman does at one point or another.
Freeze and the rest of the coaching staff talked him through staying at ASU, and they thanked their lucky stars for that on Tuesday night.
"He has just matured so much since that point," Freeze said. "I'm just so proud of him to step up tonight and be thrust into that situation."
Young's performance complimented the overall performance of the Arkansas State defense, holding FIU to 117 fewer yards than its season average, and holding them to 66 rushing yards — a season low, as they have been averaging 157 yards on the ground.
Young was third in tackles on the night with seven, just behind Jaquan Kilcrease and Nick Nelms, who both had eight tackles. Young led the team in sacks, being the only player who recorded an unassisted sack.