YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

XFL readies Young for football future

July 09, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

When former Brawley Union High School football star Brandin Young first made his way onto the practice field of the now-defunct Xtreme Football League's San Francisco Demons' franchise, he entered bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Looking around him he was somewhat awe-struck as he recognized players whom he had watched while in high school and college.

That first moment was seemingly his first mistake in the world of professional football, he admits.

"When I got there I was pretty nervous and a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. I got on the (practice) field and I was like a kid in a candy store," said the 22-year-old Young, a 1996 graduate of BUHS. "In our first game when I entered the stadium I looked around and saw 40,000 people. I was like, ‘Wow,' and I was just happy to be there. That attitude was probably my biggest mistake."

But like anything else, Young has learned from that mistake and knows what to expect his next time in a pro football setting.


That next time will have to wait as the upstart XFL folded after only one season, leaving Young and hundreds of other XFL players and coaches out of pro football … for now.

The fall of the XFL was about the only real bad thing that Young thinks came out of his experience.

"For me, it was a great experience and I got what I needed out of the XFL. I think I really got more than I expected," said the 5-foot-10, 206-pound Young. "Going into it I felt that I'd be able to play with those guys at that level and I think this last season I showed that I could."

As a running back for the Demons, Young finished with seven receptions for 44 yards, four rushing attempts for 20 yards, 1-for-1 on a pass attempt for 11 yards and scored one touchdown on a reception.

In a season of firsts, playing for the Demons was the first time in Young's football career that he wasn't the focal point of the team's running game.

He was the No. 1 running back while at Saint Mary's College in Moraga and was the centerpiece of BUHS's offense. In his senior campaign, he rushed for 1,920 yards and reached the end zone 22 times for the Wildcats.

"I had some tough breaks early on (in the season) and I'm the type of guy who'll get down on myself. But most of the other guys just told me that I needed to keep doing what I was doing," said Young, who was the second-youngest player on the Demon's.

"But I think, more than anything, what got to me was the mental part of the game. I spent years working out and training to get ready, physically. But there's nothing you can do to get prepared mentally for something like that. The only way, that I can think of, is by going through it and gaining experience."

Making his pro debut a bit easier was having family on the team. Jim Skipper, head coach of the Demons and former assistant coach with the New York Giants, is Young's uncle and teammate Brian Roberson, who was second on the team in receptions with 34 for 370 yards, is Young's cousin.

Having family and other veterans who have gone through the same thing give helpful advice is part of what Young said helped him get through the season.

"I was walking around saying, ‘Damn, I'm getting paid to do something that I love,' but some of the older guys kind of talked to me about that. I was just happy to be there but they were saying that I should realize that I deserved to be there and I was there for a reason. It wasn't until like the third or fourth week of the season that it actually did set in and I realized that."

It's all the experience, knowledge and mental preparation of the last season that Young hopes will make for a life in the NFL, which is his next goal.

Making it to the NFL has always been his goal, but at least until next spring it's a goal Young will have to put on hold. He had planned on taking another tour of duty in the XFL to help raise his stock and gain more experience, but with the fall of the league those plans were altered.

Should an opportunity to play pro football present itself before next year, he said he'd jump at it as he did this year.

Still, time may be working against Young. He turns 23 in August and will be 24 by the time the NFL pre-season starts. If not on an NFL roster by then, he said he would consider ending the dream.

An option is going back to school to earn his master's degree and possibly taking a job as a college or high school football coach, Young said.

For now, the goal for which he continues to work toward is making it to the NFL.

"To be honest, it's been tough. To be that close and to have it taken away from you is just really hard. But I think that will only make me better and make me want it more," said Young. "That's just been the story of my life. I've always been doubted and I've always had to overcome everything. What I'm going through now is just another test for me.

"The goal for me still is to play in the NFL. I'll play anywhere, it doesn't matter. All I want is an opportunity," Young said. "No matter what level of football I've played on, I've always made the team and I've never been cut. So I think if I do get an opportunity in the NFL I could go in and do some things and make the team. I'm going to keep trying and I'm not going to give up until I make it."

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles