February 25, 2011

2012 intro: Offensive tackle Avery Young

Avery Young, one of the top offensive line prospects in the country for 2012, is very familiar with NC State. Young has won awards at NC State's summer football camps and became very familiar with the coaching staff and campus while older brother, Willie, was a star defensive end for the Wolfpack. Willie just wrapped up his rookie season with the Detroit Lions.

Avery projects to the opposite side of the ball in college than his older brother, but does play defensive line in certain situations at Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High and possesses the same jaw-dropping athleticism. Willie also graduated from Palm Beach Gardens, playing for Tim Tharp, who is now the athletic director at Vero Beach High.

"He's such an athletic lineman that I don't think there is anything specific - from playing interior offensive line or even the interior on the defensive line - that he can't do well," prep coach Chris Davis said of his star left tackle.

"He plays on defense for us in certain situations. He's our left tackle, that's his M.O., that's what he does and probably will be doing for a very long time. If someone crosses the 50 or is getting to our red zone where we feel threatened on defense, we put him in [at defensive tackle]. He's a man among boys when he's playing on the interior. If somebody is threatening us, I'm not going to have my best player standing beside me."

The 6-foot-6, 290-pound Young, a member of the Rivals250 to watch for 2012 list, benefits from the experiences of his older brother, according to the coach, who also mentioned that the two are extremely close.

"Avery idolizes his brother and, even when Willie was at NC State, Avery would go up and see him in the summer time, attend their camps," the coach said. "They just really have a good relationship.

"I think Willie has learned from some of his experiences and he's been able to pass that along to Avery. From recruiting to taking the tests to getting qualified to developing relationships with coaches, he's been a big part of the recruiting process so far for Avery and I think he will continue to be until Avery makes a decision about where he will attend school."

While Willie was at State, Avery made numerous trips to Raleigh and defensive coordinator Mike Archer has already stopped by the school to see the current junior.

"He just kind of came in to rekindle that relationship [they have]," Davis said. "Mike just wanted to let the kid know that he's important, to keep working hard and stressed good, old-school, core values; and that's Mike Archer. He's one of the best defensive coordinators in American, he has a lot of experience from his days with the Steelers."

Young began playing on the varsity squad as a freshman, although Davis did not become head coach until the youngster's sophomore season. He worked at a different school but once he got on campus and saw Young, the coach knew he had a special talent on his hands.

"He'll be a four-year letterman before it's over with," he said. "There was no doubt once you saw him and saw the guy move that he was a bona fide Division I guy, I didn't need to watch much tape to figure that out. He has the offers and accolades to prove it.

"He's gained some weight [since the season] but he looks great. If you see him without his shirt on, he looks like a skill guy. He's not one of these lineman that has a lot of excess fat, he's just a big man."

While the coach admits that it is still early in the recruiting process, nearly every school in the country has already extended a verbal offer to the future blue-chipper. However, Young takes it all in stride and just goes about his business.

"He has been offered by pretty much everybody in American, but you would never know it if you saw him, the only thing that gives it away is his stature because you can't miss him in a crowd," the coach said. "When it comes to being humble, personable and sincere, he's all of those things. He's very much a gentleman, I don't think you could find anybody on campus that will say anything bad about him, he's a pleasure to be around.

"There are no negatives to him. For everything that he is on the field, he is just a super young man [off it]. He's made me a better person and coach by just working with him, I'm very blessed."

Davis also concedes that the junior already ranks as the best player he's ever coached, but that doesn't mean there aren't things that they are trying to better in Young's game.

"He had a good year, he graded out at 88 percent for the year, which is pretty strong for a lineman," Davis said. "He's a great run blocker. He moves very well in space so we like to run tackle traps, counter treys and screens where he'll get out in space and knock people down, he's very, very good at that. Where we're going to really look to challenge him this spring - not that he isn't already good at it - is in trying to become a more smash-mouth team.

"We've been a slide protection team since he's been here but we'll probably work a little bit more on big-on-big principles. … We're going to challenge him more from a protection standpoint and I think he'll do good with it. He's certainly athletic enough to do it."

With Young expected to have his choice of any BCS school in the country, there will be a few factors that will help the big man sort through his suitors. Davis thinks that two of the most important dynamics will be getting on the field early and proximity to his parents.

"I've heard him say that playing time, sooner than later, is going to be important," he said. "I think it's like that with pretty much everybody, whether it is a NAIA guy or a Division I, BCS-guy. Nobody wants to get to college and not play; and I think proximity will be important. His mom lives in Georgia and his dad lives in South Florida so I think the proximity to where both of them live will play into it a little bit.

"He hasn't really tipped his hand and said, 'I like these guys and these guys,' he hasn't named a top five or anything. When he does, I'm sure everybody will know about it because it will be big news."

With Young keeping his cards close to the vest, the coach joked that he didn't want to say anything that would make the big man mad at him.

"One thing I'll never do for Avery is speak for him because he's bigger than I am," he laughed. "He hasn't ruled anyone out so I won't rule anyone out. He hasn't ruled out NC State so I don't think I could either. Right now, he says he's wide open so that makes me think they have a chance, with his familiarity with the campus."

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