Selvin Young: Fresh start
He is the only Longhorn in Texas history to return a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in the same game. He's tallied 661 yards on 132 carries during his career, averaging a solid five yards per carry. He pushed the Longhorns second all-time leading rusher for playing time as a freshman and sophomore.
But, as far as junior Selvin Young is concerned, that is old news. After missing the bulk of the 2004 season due to a broken ankle and being slowed by a groin injury for much of 2003, the Houston native is looking at 2005 as a new beginning ... a fresh start.
"I kind of feel like a freshman right now," explained Young, who went as far as changing his number to 22 to emphasize his renewed beginning. "I have a lot of flashbacks about when I was coming in and I just feel like I've got a fresh start going into this season."
Young got off to a great start in 2004, rushing for a career-high 102 yards and two TDs on just 12 carries against North Texas. That performance had coaches and fans excited about a Benson-Young one-two punch. But, midway through the first quarter of the second game at Arkansas their hopes were dashed as Young was snowed under after a 24-yard kickoff return. The result was a broken ankle, ending his season.
"I saw the big picture as I lied on the table during the Arkansas game and heard the crowd outside," said Young. "Most of me thought there was something better coming. With my faith, I believed that the Lord was with me and everything I was going through was happening for a reason."
Despite the realization that he was going to miss the rest of the season and would be in a cast for four months, Young's signature smile was often prevalent in the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Facility and on the hill in the south end zone on game days. But, while the season was passing, Young was plotting his return and preparing for the future.
"Everything started when I first took my cast off and got in the cold pool to soak my leg," said Young of his rehab process. "I had a lot of goals I wanted to accomplish."
Young knew it would be a long road back, but that didn't concern him. His days were spent sweating and rehabbing, and his nights were spent envisioning breaking tackles and scoring touchdowns. Goals and visualization are one thing, but achieving them is another. Young dedicated himself to getting back.
"He was probably one of the more dedicated athletes I've worked with," said head football trainer Kenny Boyd. "Pretty much every day during the week, and even on the weekends, he would be in the training room, working. It got to the point where I would suggest to him that we should take a day off. He really went above and beyond what he needed to do to get back."
While the grueling rehab process could take its toll on anyone, Young seemed to thrive throughout the spring and summer. He felt he had spent enough lonely hours with a cast on his leg, and once it came off, it was time to get to work.
"It was the best summer I could ever imagine," Young said with emphasis. "It went from training with Kenny three times a day, every day, including Saturday and Sunday, to being able to run again, to going back to Houston to train for about a month, to coming back and training with Mad Dog (Assistant AD for Strength and Conditioning Jeff Madden) all summer, with really no days off. It was just everything from eating right to taking care of my body."
The effort was not lost on his teammates.
"I've never seen a player work as hard as he did," said junior guard Kasey Studdard. "He was determined to get back. I would come for class and he would be rehabbing in the training room and then I would come in to work out, and he would still be in the training room. It was beautiful to me to see a guy who wanted to be on this team so badly."
Young never doubted he would return, but something happened during a training session in Houston that let him know he was back.
"I was doing a cone drill, where my trainer had cones set all over the place," explained Young. "I ran full speed and made the cuts he told me to make. I did everything. I was supposed to stop after going full speed, and I did it. I got to the end, and I came back and did it again, then I went back and did it again and came back and did it again. I took a break and thought, 'I'm back.'"
From that point forward, everything Young did was in preparation for September 3, Texas' opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.
"He's one of the most excited guys on the team to get the season started," said roommate Vince Young.
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis also sees the fire.
"He is ready to go," added Davis. "I see a big smile on his face and he is always excited about coming to practice."
But, mainly, you can see the excitement in Selvin himself. Whether it is coming out of meetings or getting off the bus after a long, hard practice, you can see it in his eyes. He knows how far he has come since that day in Fayetteville, Ark., but he certainly won't forget.
"I've still got my cast hanging on the wall and the boot I walked in," said Young. "I'm keeping them until this season is over and I'm ready to move on to next season, then I'll throw them out."
For now, he feels like a freshman again, bursting through holes, taking back kicks and hauling in passes. A new Selvin Young is coming in 2005, and, in his mind, the slate is clean.