As Notre Dame's new defensive graduate assistant, former NFL All-Pro defensive lineman Bryant Young is finding out what it is to be a football coach.
"It's been going good. I've been putting in the time and everyday is a new day to learn something new and get better and improve," Young said. "For me, just really getting acclimated in terms of getting into the routine of what it's going to take as a coach, my requirements as a coach as a GA."
The most rewarding part of the experience so far has been working with the players.
"The fun part really for me is really getting a chance to work with the young guys that we have on our team," said Young.
But Young is learning about coaching from his new colleagues.
"Just their presence, having some many years under their belt you really sit back and watch how they do things and how they talk to the kids," he said. "How they teach them, there's a lot to learn from that and then just asking questions and picking their brains a little bit about what they see."
Young is working closely with new defensive line coach Randy Hart. At 60, Hart sometimes appears to have more energy than anyone else does on the field.
"As a young coach, you think I'm the guy that should be having that type of energy. I do have the energy, but he has so much more energy," Young said. "He's definitely a guy that's really passionate and energetic on the field. He's fun to be around and I'm glad that I'm able to get a chance to work with him."
It can be hard for standout players to make the transition to coaching because some of the things that came easy for them as players may not come as quickly for their pupils.
"As a coach you really have to be patient as you teach these guys the game, schemes and techniques," said Young. "They may not get it right then, but if you keep repping it, it will eventually happen."
One thing is for sure, being back in the game after a year away has not giving Young any second thoughts about his retirement.
"Absolutely not," he said. "My playing days are definitely behind me, but I still get emotional and excited about watching them make the plays and just being around them definitely scratches that itch."
Young tries to avoid using his days as a player as a tool when coaching.
"I try to avoid that. This is a different era. This is now and that was the past," he said. "I just try to use my experiences from the past to help these guys anyway I can without referring to the past."
The game has not changed, but the faces of the collegiate players has.
"I think football is still the same," he said. "They seem a lot younger. I'm like, ‘Man, was I that young looking at the time?'"
As a graduate assistant, Young is responsible for working on the practice field and breaking down film, typing up practice plans and preparing notes off it. His accomplishments as a player do not get him out of any of his duties as a GA.
"This is a fresh start and you have to earn your keep around here," he said.
Charlie Weis said that he wanted to give Young an idea of what is required of a coach before possibly signing him up as the team's full-time defensive line coach and that is exactly what is happening.
"I'm figuring it out," said Young. "This is an opportunity for me to really get a feel and an understanding for my future and how far I want to take it. I'm just taking it one year at a time. Every year that I played in college and the NFL, I always took it one year at a time.
"I know we set goals, but if you work on the things that are important at the present time that definitely sets up a better future for you."