To be Young Again

IRVING, Tex. - For rookie offensive tackle Sam Young, his first day of mini-camp had to feel like déjà vu all over again.

He grew up in Coral Springs, Fla., where he became one of the most sought-after recruits in the country. Young picked arguably the most visible college football program in the country, Notre Dame. All he did there was take over a starting tackle position as a freshman, and start more games — 50 — than anyone in the history of the school's storied football program.

But once again, Young is … young. After anchoring the Notre Dame offensive line, the Cowboys' sixth-round draft pick is the tallest among a group of rookies trying to catch the coaches' attention. Young, perhaps because of his unequaled collegiate experience, seems to be taking the adjustment in stride.

"It was interesting," he said when asked about his first practice with the Cowboys. "It was good — good to be back on a football field."

Young might have more college games on his résumé than the other players at the Cowboys' rookie mini-camp this weekend, but he said Friday that he finds himself in the same state as the other rookies making their professional debuts this weekend in Valley Ranch: lost.

"Everything is different," Young said, "different coaches, different terminology … Everyone is in here working their rears off, and I'm no different.

"Everything is new. I don't have my bearings yet. We're all trying to figure the coaches out, and they're trying to figure us out. The tempo — that's something we'll get used to. It's still football."

When he was drafted, the parallel many drew for Young was with right tackle Marc Colombo, if only because each man stands 6 feet, 8 inches tall. Young said the comparison is understandable, but not necessarily an accurate match. Instead, while at Notre Dame, he was able to take advantage of his opportunities to learn from multiple players.

"I've watched some of (Colombo's) film, and I guess there are some similarities," Young said. "But I look at myself as myself, not as another version of someone else. In college, I was lucky enough to play for (then-Notre Dame head) Coach (Charlie) Weis, and he was a great resource. He was able to get ahold of a lot of NFL film, so I studied a lot of players, like (New England's) Matt Light and (Cleveland's) Joe Thomas."

The difference between Young and his fellow rookies is the amount of on-field learning he did. He might have holed up in Weis's office, watching film of professional players like Light and Thomas, but he also got kicked in the deep end as a freshman, and was forced to learn to swim in a hurry.

"I've seen a lot of stuff, but this is another level," he said of moving up from college stalwart to professional novice. "At this level, I don't know anything.

"I might have been in the minors (playing in college) for a couple more years (than the Cowboys' other rookies), but this is the big leagues."

CowboysHQ Top Stories