Chris Young, a talented 6-1, 190 wide receiver from Batesville, Miss., was one of Vanderbilt's most heralded recruits from the recruiting class of 2000. After missing last season with a suspension, Young hopes to return to help the Commodore receiving corps in a big way in 2003.
"Chris Young was suspended last year, but did everything we asked him to do, academically, socially and athletically," head coach Bobby Johnson said before fall camp. "He went above and beyond the call of duty. He's earned his way back onto the team and I think he's going to contribute a great deal."
VandyMania: At SEC Media Days this year, Coach Johnson said he was so pleased with your attitude and the way you had handled your suspension. Talk about what helped get you through that.
Chris Young: I just decided to approach it the way that it would benefit me. I just want to win, whether I'm playing or not, be it in a mentoring capacity with the younger guys, or whatever. I just had in my mind that I want Vanderbilt to win. So I just had to do what I had to do. I sat out last year and played scout team. I tried to better myself, came out every day and tried to work hard and make everybody else better. It was just a frame of mind. Once I got my mind right, everything just fell into place.
VM: Was there any one thing that happened that made you say, wow, I need to get myself together?
Chris: Not really just one thing. It's been a couple of things. Since I came in my freshman year, my first two years here were a little rocky. My whole career has been riddled with ups and downs. I just wanted to get everything out of the way and get on a level playing field and be able to play some ball.
VM: How's your brother Antuian [Bradford] doing? Is he with any team right now?
Chris: He's doing good. He's not with any team, but he's still working out. He works in the Human Resources department at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
VM: How do you think they're going to be used in the offense this year?
Chris: I really can't tell you. The receivers that we have can be used in a number of ways. We've got 12 receivers this year, and any of them can play at any time. So I really can't tell you for sure what my position is going to be in this offense.
VM: Do you think there's more talent at receiver this year than any year since you've been here?
Chris: I don't know about that... we've had a lot of great receivers here. We've definitely got some heat. We've got Erik Davis, and he has been doing his job in these two-a-days. Brandon Smith, of course. We've got a walk-on, Jason Burns. Jason Caldwell. Marlon White has stepped up his game a whole lot. He doesn't play like a freshman. It's just a lot of heat. Last year we had 11 scholarship receivers. We had a pretty good mix, you know? But this year we've jelled. We're like a corps now. That's the one thing I think is different from past years. We've got a lot of depth at receiver too.
VM: Tell us about the two new guys, Marlon White and George Smith.
Chris: Marlon has acquired the nickname "Monster", because he's going to be a monster one day. 6-5, and can catch the ball and run with the ball-- he's just an exceptional athlete. George-- he's a great player, but he just has to work out a few of those high school things, you know, like not tucking the ball-- just little things. They're both going to be tough to stop in the future.
VandyMania also spoke with Jason Caldwell, a 6-1, 198-pounder from Hoover, Ala. "Jason was getting off to a good start last spring when he broke his wrist," said Bobby Johnson. "I think he can help us this year."
VM: You've gotten a lot of mentions by the coaches in the preseason this year as a receiver who has really stepped up his game since last season. What's been the difference for you between this year and last year?
Jason Caldwell: I just feel more focused this year. I know the offense a whole lot better than I did this time last year. I'm just looking forward to the season.
VM: The competition is pretty thick at wide receiver this year... you've got some walk-ons, and some new freshmen that look pretty good.
Jason: Yeah, it is pretty thick, but it's good for the corps. It makes us all work harder and push ourselves to greater things.
VM: You still have three years to play, right? And also, I believe you are studying some kind of engineering?
Jason: Yeah, chemical engineering. I'll be a junior in the classroom, but a sophomore on the field this year.