Walking to Spartan Stadium on game day, Drew Young finds motivation in the words of the late rapper Tupac Shakur.
One of my favorite songs is Dear Mama, when (Tupac) talks about his relationship with his mom, the senior linebacker said. I really understand it because I have a great relationship with my mom. That song gets to me before the game. It gives me added inspiration.
Young channels that extra motivation to do what he enjoys most about football.
I like to hit. Im a physical player, he said. Its just natural to me. I dont have to work hard on knowing how to hit - I just do it.
The East Riverside, Calif. native, a self-described natural hitter, said he gets a big rush out of smacking the opposition.
Im playing, having fun. I enjoy the game, he said. Ive been playing the game my whole life and I enjoy it. Its what I do.
Young transferred to MSU in 1999 from San Bernardino Valley College in California, where he led the team with 112 tackles and three interceptions in 1998 as a safety. He initially went to Colorado after high school, but was ineligible and didnt play.
The 6-foot-3, 227-pound Young primarily played special teams last year, but now starts at weakside linebacker after the coaching staff asked him to switch positions last spring. He recorded a career-high nine tackles against Missouri.
Im still learning as the season progresses, but Im coming along very well, Young said. I like it a whole lot. I feel like I shouldve been a linebacker my whole life.
Linebackers coach Bill Sheridan said he was thrilled to have Young make the transition from the secondary.
Any time you can move athletic guys to your position, you take it and Drew is fast and athletic, he said. We had to have him, I was excited about having him.
Hes got good body quickness. Hes athletic like a defensive back but hes playing linebacker. Hes much more athletic and quick-bodied than the average linebacker, not only on our team but around (the league).
Sheridan, whos coached Young since he became a linebacker, said he likes Youngs ambition for success.
Its important to him that hes successful at football, he said. He doesnt have a laisséz-faire attitude - hes driven.
One thing Sheridan said he likes about Young is his penchant for hitting.
Hell bring the wood. He has no reservations about throwing his body in there, he said. He enjoys getting good shots on guys. He lights up when he has the opportunity to lay into somebody.
Junior linebacker Josh Thornhill said Youngs experience in the secondary makes him a real asset to the linebacking corps.
Hes got good speed and coverage ability. Thats what makes him a good linebacker - he can cover a wideout if necessary, Thornhill said. Hes coming along good. He holds his own out there now.
Despite being an intense player who enjoys inflicting pain, Young said hes really laid-back off the field.
I like to cool out. I like to read a lot, he said. I just like to cool out, just stay to myself and not get into the mix of what everyone else is doing. I go out but not a lot.
Young said he also enjoys playing video games and hanging out with his girlfriend.
She keeps me busy, he said.
As for plans after college, Young stressed his desire to be a criminal defense attorney.
Hopefully Ill make it to the NFL, but I want to graduate with my criminal justice degree. Ill eventually want to go to law school.