Devrin Young building off fast start

Derek Dooley talks about seeing improvement following 4 straight losses

Devrin Young

Devrin Young

One touch was all it took.

Devrin Young proved he belonged on the stage at Tennessee.

The freshman's teammates quickly found out they had somebody capable of providing a jolt for the special teams.

And Derek Dooley got some instant validation, with the Vols coach seeing for the first time up close what Young could do with the ball in his hands.

The Bearden High School graduate packed all that into just one punt return that was a desperation tackle away from being a touchdown in his debut outing against Buffalo a little more than a month ago. And with no signs of slowing down even against tougher competition since the first time Young put his hands on the ball, the trick now might be finding more ways to get it there as the Vols prepare for Middle Tennessee State on Saturday (TV: FSTN, 7 p.m.).

"You know, the first time being out on the field, I was a little nervous," Young said after practice on Tuesday. "But once it was over, I just felt very happy and felt like I had earned a little bit of the team's respect and their accountability for me.

"Conference play was a little different than playing Buffalo, obviously. After I got hit pretty good a few times, I just felt like a part of the team finally."

Young had to wait longer than he or the Vols (3-5, 0-5 SEC) wanted after breaking his collarbone just before training camp opened, and the recovery time kept him out of action for each of the first three games.

That cost him valuable reps as he made the transition to a faster, more physi

cal level of competition, and it also prevented Dooley and the coaching staff from finding out what Young might really bring to the table as a freshman.

An electrifying 43-yard punt return gave them a pretty good idea once Young was able to get on the field, and there have been signs that his success there could spill over into the offensive game plan against the Blue Raiders (2-5, 1-3 Sun Belt) — assuming it doesn't force UT to sacrifice anything on special teams.

"We probably need to get him more involved," Dooley said. "There's been a couple of things. One, he got hit in that Alabama game pretty hard, so we were nervous about using him too much (last week against South Carolina). He went a couple of days in that green (non-contact) shirt.

"We've got to get him the ball more, we do. It's just really a combination of we're getting more confidence in him every week and he kind of got set back. When he gets hit, all of a sudden he comes back hobbling and then you really get nervous because where do you go on return game? That's been a real bright spot for us."

A year ago it was about as dark as possible, with Dooley repeatedly calling the return game an embarrassment and occasionally not sending anybody back to field punts as the fumbles piled up.

Young has had one issue with ball security himself already, with his turnover coming later in the otherwise promising outing against Buffalo. But since then, he's taken some brutal shots against a couple of the most talented teams in the country without giving the ball away — and he's inflicted some of his own punishment by averaging more than 18 yards per punt return and 25 on kickoffs.

And the chance to do a little more damage out of the backfield or in the slot for the Vols on offense might be coming soon.

"I just see myself being used however a small guy gets used in the offense, just speed and getting to the perimeter," Young said. "I'm just working hard and hopefully I can increase my role.

"You get what you earn out here."

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 40

AllVol1 writes:

This guy is going to be a weapon for us. I can understand being careful after the injury. Now that he is fully recovered, let's see some creativity. Gotta get the ball to the playmakers.

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

Devrin Young is a valuable asset to the 2011 Vols, and should be even more so in 2012, when UT gets more healthy bodies back on the field. Tenn has their backs to the wall the rest of this season. It wouldn't hurt if Mr. Young could take a couple to the checkerboard, since no remaining opponent can be overlooked at this point.

VolGrad writes:

Yeah, I'd really like to see him take back at least one for a score in this game. He's been close on a couple. Time to break out.

Go Vols!

VolMan126 writes:

THEN GIVE HIM THE DAMN BALL!!! WE HAVE BEEN USING HIM AS A DECOY..

rockytop10c_1 writes:

This Young Man Will Take One All The Way Before The Year Is Up!

TNVolunteers57 writes:

I say we put the man in the backfield more. I would love to see them put the ball in his hands 5 to 10 times a game.

RockyBears2009 writes:

in response to volheart67:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

not only is he probably the smallest guy on the field, he did have a broken collar bone a month ago...

i saw him take/give plenty of nice hits at bearden. just give him a chance to get healthy

BJ writes:

I declare regardless of the positive for Tennessee Football somebody has to come on here and say something negative. Its time to put up or shut up say something positive even about something that may be negative or shut up and stay home. These are young men playing this game not grown adults who get paid millions to play. Get with the program or leave it alone

1bigvolman writes:

in response to volheart67:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I haven't noticed this, he looks like the best return man we've had in a long time, and one of the best I've seen this year on ANY team!

EastTNvolfan writes:

in response to volheart67:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Uh after breaking a collar bone and getting hit hard in the AL game I think anyone would be be allowed a little hesitancy. The kid is 18 years old and he's got 11 guys all bigger than him trying to take his head off at full steam. I give him much credit and guts for doing that. I sure wouldn't want to be in his shoes. Plus he is doing great. If he had played in a few more games to qualify he would be leading the nation in return average. Don't think there is anything soft about any of those facts. GO Devrin! GO VOLS!

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to volheart67:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

about as dumb a comment seen here in a while---as a returner, unlike running back, you run away from contact/being tackled instead into it------avoiding contact makes for longer returns-----------you keep on wishing he shows his manhood by running into the pile at the 20 and I'll continue being happy hes avoiding contact and getting further down the fiels

hateNCloveTN writes:

gotta love the young man's attitude.

dvols writes:

TN needs a tailback!

RunningWithTheVols writes:

The kid is electric. They should hang a sign in the locker room with his last quote:

"You get what you earn out there."

Perfect.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to dvols:

TN needs a tailback!

no,,,an offense

VolsFanJL91 writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Im not sure we have a "field goal range". At this point, I'm nervous on extra points!!!

CroKev writes:

in response to VolMan126:

THEN GIVE HIM THE DAMN BALL!!! WE HAVE BEEN USING HIM AS A DECOY..

Sir, slowly put down the keyboard, take two steps back with your fingers interlocked behind your head...

CantStandCantStandSaban writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

no,,,an offense

Run blocking would be a nice start.

givehim6 writes:

in response to volheart67:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Young man just needs to grow into the job. In the off season needs to bulk up without losing his speed.

givehim6 writes:

in response to Abdul_Wauhatchie_Tiftonia_Rahman_of_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

UT does not wan't him as a every down back, need him to do kick returns. He is a freshman, he will get faster, and bulk up.

VOLliven2it writes:

We need him more but not to much or we will have another injured playmaker on the sideline. He does give us added excitement to consider for the future. But giving him the ball in the middle of the big uglies is not a good idea. On the other hand, I want to see him make some catches and maybe an end around or two into big plays. Go Devrin, GO BIG ORANGE!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As we saw after the Prentiss Wagner return, anything short of the checkerboards is iffy.

volfaninbuckeyeland writes:

in response to VOLliven2it:

We need him more but not to much or we will have another injured playmaker on the sideline. He does give us added excitement to consider for the future. But giving him the ball in the middle of the big uglies is not a good idea. On the other hand, I want to see him make some catches and maybe an end around or two into big plays. Go Devrin, GO BIG ORANGE!

Agreed. In watching the end of the Mon. night game, did anyone notice how often KC was getting the ball to McCluster in those short passes to the flat. That young man killed UT a couple of years ago because of a his ability to make guys miss. Is it really too much to ask to see a little more offensive creativity with what playmakers we have left? Time is running out on this season, and honestly, there is not a whole lot to lose by trying a few new wrinkles.

TNVolunteers57 writes:

in response to Abdul_Wauhatchie_Tiftonia_Rahman_of_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He looked pretty quick on that shovel pass he caught against Georgia or at least I thought he did.

Navaloranges writes:

in response to TNVolunteers57:

He looked pretty quick on that shovel pass he caught against Georgia or at least I thought he did.

This is ppo's new name, with the same agenda. Trash Dooley for player development and generally run down UT's coaches and players, without a single FACT, or an ounce of evidence to back him up. He's "convincing" us that UT's staff can't cut in in the SEC because he knows more than the COUNTLESS professional pundits, other SEC coaches, Manning, and many others in the know that have been telling the Vol nation to be patient, that Dooley will deliver. PLEASE don't be one of the few on here that doesn't realize what this clown is all about.

MitchelCrass writes:

in response to Abdul_Wauhatchie_Tiftonia_Rahman_of_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Barry Sanders was quick and not fast! Just out of curiosity how do you know he's not fast? Can you beat him in a foot race? Yes he was pushed out of bounds 48 yds downfield by a pretty fast guy but to me it seems a slow guy wouldn't have made it that far!! Just wait Accuna Matata i'd really love to watch you eat that crow!!

HtownVol writes:

Seeing Young on returns and having seen Poole, D Rogers,Lane and others do the same thing I have no doubt that (in my opinion) Devrin is the BEST PlayMaker that UT has.

That is with the ball in the open field.

I would love to see Devrin get a handful of plays in every game (Screens,shovel pass,toss,draw..)

PLEASE, get Young the ball!

I am just tired of watching Poole run up the middle into a pile of big Linemen. Not that the O-Line has opened more than a few holes this season but when there is a lane open Poole is incapable of seeing that hole. Young has shown in his few chances that he can find those lanes.

Chaney...MIX IT UP!

Chaneys play calling is more frustrating than the "Clawfense".

Randy Sanders makes Chaney look boring.

When is the last time UT has called more than 2 WR screens? Or slants? Just ANY way to get the ball into the skill players hands FAST!. Shouldnt that be the best thing for a young or inaccurate (Simms) QB?

GO VOLS

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to Abdul_Wauhatchie_Tiftonia_Rahman_of_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Recommending them from experience?

Tau_of_Tennessee writes:

In a pregame interview Coach Richt mentioned Young by name, the only player on the team mentioned I believe. DY has been a huge upshot in the roles that he has played on the team thus far.

Who has a better freshman return man in the SEC?

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to Tau_of_Tennessee:

In a pregame interview Coach Richt mentioned Young by name, the only player on the team mentioned I believe. DY has been a huge upshot in the roles that he has played on the team thus far.

Who has a better freshman return man in the SEC?

Richt's special teams place new meaning on the word special. That's probably why Young was worrying him a bit. His special teams almost cost him the Vandy game.

wbsmd1 writes:

When Young tried to run laterally on one punt return against LSU at least 5 guys for LSU were moving faster. I remember Willie Gault against LSU that is how a big time punt and kick returner looks. After 2 touchdown returns one of LSU's coaches remarked that the only thing that slowed Gault down was the end of the stadium. Big difference in 2 star and 5 star speed. Our coach is a self professed "no hot sauce recruiter."

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Kid looks promising for sure..He made the opposition look like molasses at Bearden but not so much against the speed of the SEC..I could draw up a couple better plays for him in the dirt than Chaney can..Not expecting big things for Young in this offense till Chaney figures out he's playing with the big boys in the SEC and he might have to actually be creative or god forbid make an adjustment in the 3rd or 4th quarter.

jawga writes:

in response to dvols:

TN needs a tailback!

Agreed. All the articles on this site about D-Young crack me up. He's a nice player but far from the answer for UT's run game. They need Keith Marshall but Dawgs are probably going to sign him as IC's understudy.

TNVolunteers57 writes:

in response to Navaloranges:

This is ppo's new name, with the same agenda. Trash Dooley for player development and generally run down UT's coaches and players, without a single FACT, or an ounce of evidence to back him up. He's "convincing" us that UT's staff can't cut in in the SEC because he knows more than the COUNTLESS professional pundits, other SEC coaches, Manning, and many others in the know that have been telling the Vol nation to be patient, that Dooley will deliver. PLEASE don't be one of the few on here that doesn't realize what this clown is all about.

What are you talking about? I just complimented him on his speed or can you not read? I for one do believe in Dooley. I believe he is a great coach and will have UT back to its elite level within 5 years. He has run off all of the players who either don't want to be here and the ones who don't deserve to be apart of this program. I think as soon as Bray is back next year we will be a force to reckon with. That's just my opinion.

snakeplissken writes:

in response to Abdul_Wauhatchie_Tiftonia_Rahman_of_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You observed well. Devrin is quick, but not near as fast as many players on the elite SEC teams. If Devrin had the blazing speed that many SEC teams have or desire to have, they would have been recruiting him. I think Devrin only had offers from a couple Div. 2 teams so that should tell people he's far from being a difference maker.

This is the point I've made many times about our recruiting. We're recruiting good players, but we're not recruiting the great players that the elite teams do. We're already behind these teams in young talent and it appears we won't close the gap any this year if the recruiting rankings stay about where they are now.

snakeplissken writes:

in response to TNVolunteers57:

What are you talking about? I just complimented him on his speed or can you not read? I for one do believe in Dooley. I believe he is a great coach and will have UT back to its elite level within 5 years. He has run off all of the players who either don't want to be here and the ones who don't deserve to be apart of this program. I think as soon as Bray is back next year we will be a force to reckon with. That's just my opinion.

Pay no attention to nasal arnge. I've been told they're Barbara Dooley.

snakeplissken writes:

in response to dvols:

TN needs a tailback!

Tennessee does need an elite back but can't even recruit the great ones we have in the state of Tennessee this year. The Mathers kid from Blackman chose Ole Miss over Tennessee, and the Kimbrow kid from Memphis chose Vandy (of all people) over Tennessee.

When you can't recruit the great ones from your own state that tells you what shape our program is in. Vandy is about to overtake us!!!

Oh yeah, don't forget that Clemson came into Dooley's back yard (Maryville) and got a commitment from the #1 ranked center in the nation!!!! Do you think we could have used him next year with the problems we've had at center this year?

MitchelCrass writes:

in response to snakeplissken:

You observed well. Devrin is quick, but not near as fast as many players on the elite SEC teams. If Devrin had the blazing speed that many SEC teams have or desire to have, they would have been recruiting him. I think Devrin only had offers from a couple Div. 2 teams so that should tell people he's far from being a difference maker.

This is the point I've made many times about our recruiting. We're recruiting good players, but we're not recruiting the great players that the elite teams do. We're already behind these teams in young talent and it appears we won't close the gap any this year if the recruiting rankings stay about where they are now.

a couple of d-2 schools? Try Stanford! I'd like to think Jim Harbaugh is a better scout than that!

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to snakeplissken:

Tennessee does need an elite back but can't even recruit the great ones we have in the state of Tennessee this year. The Mathers kid from Blackman chose Ole Miss over Tennessee, and the Kimbrow kid from Memphis chose Vandy (of all people) over Tennessee.

When you can't recruit the great ones from your own state that tells you what shape our program is in. Vandy is about to overtake us!!!

Oh yeah, don't forget that Clemson came into Dooley's back yard (Maryville) and got a commitment from the #1 ranked center in the nation!!!! Do you think we could have used him next year with the problems we've had at center this year?

Bryan Kimbrow is 5'9" and 165 lbs. He had an offer by just about everyone, and vistited none, so to say he chose Vandy over UT might be selling it short. He wouldn't be an every down tailback though.

Satchmo writes:

in response to volheart67:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are you high??? Watch the video of the shuttle pass in the LSU game first quarter. He ran over the LSU safety- Consider he weighs about 170lbs- i dont think looking for contact should be his game. Explain why our 200lb RBs go down with arm tackles- Remind me of the last time a UT runningback actually broke a tackle or made a defender miss besides Devrin. Contact shy isnt really a fair review of him- Everytime he runs the ball he's looking to take it to the house.

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