Young Starts Second Career

Albert Young wasn't sure what the future held for him once his playing days concluded. After thinking about it, coaching the game he loved made a whole lot of sense for the former Iowa and NFL running back.

Albert Young networked throughout his life. It created plenty of opportunities for the former Iowa running back when his playing days ended earlier this year.

"I thought about personal training or opening my own gym.," Young said "My mentors owned businesses, so I looked at advertising and marketing. But at the end of the day, go with what you know."

Young, 27, spent three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. His position coach, Eric Bieniemy, planted a seed into his pupil.

"He suggested that when I was done playing I might want to look at (coaching)," Young said. "He thought I would be a good coach. When I was done, I just made a phone call. He was there for me."

Bieniemy joined the University of Colorado as its offensive coordinator/running backs coach before the 2011 season. He asked Young to join him in Boulder this summer to assist with the Buffaloes ball carriers.

"I talked to a few people back in Iowa, asked them questions about coaching," Young said. "Those guys all felt the same way. They felt it would be a good move for me. You always got to try new things and I definitely enjoy it."

Young, who ranks third in career rushing yards (3,173) at Iowa, is working his way up from the bottom of the coaching ladder.

"You do a lot of the grunt work," the New Jersey native said. "But all of the coaches do grunt work. These guys are here until 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning. You may be here for a while but you're not here by yourself."

Bieniemy and the Iowa coaches set a good example for Young, he said.

"I learned everything from those guys, from what (Hawkeyes) Coach (Kirk) Ferentz instilled in all of us," he said. "(Iowa Strength and Conditioning) Coach (Chris) Doyle with the workouts and Coach (Darrell) Wilson; you could name every coach on that staff.

"It's everything. It's how I conduct myself. It's huge. They're life lessons forever. Looking back now, especially from my Iowa days, everything makes even more sense now. The stuff you take from there means even more when you're older."

Young rushed for 1,334 yards (5.4 per carry) as an Iowa junior in '06, his only healthy season in college. He led the Big Ten in ground yards in conference play that year and was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award given annually to the nation's top running back.

Following an injury-plagued senior campaign, Young went undrafted by NFL. Minnesota signed him as a free agent. He bucked the odds and made the roster.

The Vikings released Young before the '11 season. Jacksonville picked him up and he lasted until the Jaguars' final cuts last fall.

After sitting out for the regular season, Pittsburgh picked up Young for the playoffs. He was on the roster for one postseason game. He decided it was time to do something else.

"You know in the NFL when your time is pretty much up," Young said. "I'm not going to hold on. I don't want to be one of those guys who is bouncing around from camp to camp getting released. I'd rather jump on this career, grind it out for a few years and then be where I want to be."

Having had some time to reflect on it, Young is satisfied with what he did in the game as a player.

"Being undrafted, I still had to make the team," he said. "At the end of the day, it was probably an average career. But I got what i wanted out of it. I got a nice little head start. I made some good money. I'm happy with it."

Young's time in the NFL carries credibility. He holds the attention of the players he now tutors.

"I think it's crucial when you're a former player at the highest level, guys automatically really listen to you and you get that respect," Young said. "I think I can give to the players from the player's perspective. I think I can simplify the game for them and put it in their terms."

Coaching the running back position is about not over-coaching, Young believes.

"You give them a starting point and then let them use their own ability and creativity," he said. "When you're trying to make players be too much of a robot, then they become too mechanical. Then, they won't reach their full potential.

"If you give them a starting point and then let them do what they're naturally gifted with, they'll be fine."

Young credits Bieniemy and the Iowa staff for creating a foundation for his approach as a coach.

"The main thing is taking pride in what you're doing and putting the work in," he said. "I'm fortunate to have been around Coach Bieniemy for three years and the Iowa coaches for those years there because working hard isn't an issue."

Young said he doesn't have any long-term goals when it comes to coaching.

"I'm just taking it day by day," he said. "Whatever unfolds, let it happen. Let it be.

"If i''m doing it, I'm all in. You don't predict the future. Anything can happen. But once I commit to something, I'm in it."

While coaching wasn't a destination for him during his playing days, it makes a lot of sense now to Young.

"My brain has always been focused on what I'm doing at that time, so I didn't think about life after playing," he said. "But I love the game of football. At the end of the day, this is what I love to do. It's very long hours, but it's what you love to do. There's nothing like it."

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories