Selvin Young: Lightning Strikes Again

On a day when thunder and lightning forced Longhorn football practice indoors (Friday), it was fitting that <I>Inside Texas </I>caught up with one-half of the team&#146;s &quot;Thunder and Lightning&quot; backfield tandem. It&#146;s time you heard from sophomore RB <B>Selvin Young</B>. Opponents will be hearing from him later this fall.

By now, Big 12 defenses are well aware of the Texas Thunder, AKA junior RB Cedric Benson. Benson brings the inside power game and is an Emmitt Smith-type slasher. Young, meanwhile, is lightning quick (thus, the moniker) and is particularly dangerous on sweeps and option plays.

Young was Texas’ leading rusher in two of its final three ballgames last season: he ran for 98 yards and 1 TD on 14 carries against Baylor while contributing 49 yards on 11 totes against LSU in the Cotton Bowl. The 6-0 Houston Jersey Village product was Texas’ second leading rusher in 2002 (408 yards on 85 carries, five rushing TDs) and played in all 13 games.

As a true freshman, Young lead the team in kickoff returns for 285 yards (23.8 average). His career long was a 55-yarder against Oklahoma. He also replaced an injured CB/PR Nathan Vasher against Tulane and took his third career return 71 yards for the score (No. 5 UT all-time and longest punt return ever by a freshman).

Young will be counted on as Texas’ best kickoff return threat. You can also count on Young getting considerably more totes this season. As such, he wants to stay on the good side of RB coach Michael Haywood.

"Coach Haywood is bringing another mind-set," Young said. "He’s worked on us being more physical. Period. Not running out of bounds when the defender’s coming, and stuff like that. Putting your head down and ramming him and getting the extra yard. It’s more of a brutal, bruising type of running game that Texas is known for. You know, like with Ricky (Williams). He was known for his power, but he could run outside. With the two backs we have, me and Cedric, we’ve got both of that."

In other words, thunder and lightning. There will be times when, unlike last season, the forecast will call for thunder and lightning to share the same backfield.

The formation, unveiled near the midway point of spring training, has the QB lined up in a shotgun with the two tailbacks split wide in the backfield. The look obviously presents a variety of options, but last spring the QB typically handed off to Young on a delayed draw. The formation will also be used in one-minute drills as well as in a no-huddle offense when Texas needs to change the momentum at any point in the game. It will also be used late in the game when Texas has the lead, head coach Mack Brown said.

But Young says it is the element of surprise the formation allows that should catch defenses off guard.

"They’ll never know what they’re gong to get," he said. "They might get some power up the middle or they might get some speed around the corner. It’ll be pretty tough on defenses. That way, they’ll have to adjust to the flow or to the inside game."

Like many of his counterparts, Young remained in Austin during the summer to attend class, hit the gym and participate in voluntary practices in the evening.

"We felt like the way to win two more games this year would begin in the summer time," he said.

The result is that he has added 13 pounds of lean muscle and now tips the scale at 215. Whereas’ Benson’s 15 pounds of extra muscle is most pronounced in his upper body, Young’s physical development was in his lower extremities. Faster than small town gossip, his focus this summer was on leg strength and endurance.

"I always felt like I had the speed to do what I want to do on the football field," Young said. "I’ve worked more on long distance running and running up hill. In Austin, we’ve got the hills. I pretty much worked on my legs, my squats and everything else went up by 50 to 60 pounds."

He pauses for a moment to consider just how ripped he has become and then tries to suppress a smile.

"I mean, it’s lovely right now," he laughed.

It’s all geared toward two more wins in 2003. Now, wouldn’t that be lovely?

Horns Digest Top Stories