Since Byron Young arrived in the spring, there’s been a buzz surrounding him. It didn’t come from his recruiting ranking — it’s come from what he’s shown on the practice field. As Tennessee searches for answers on the edge, Young has entered the picture and seemingly provided an instant solution.
That buzz has continued after just a few days of camp.
“You guys can ask anybody on the team, Byron Young has been the most effective person,” edge rusher Tyler Baron said last week. “He has taken the biggest jump I may have ever seen. It’s very impressive and I’m excited to play across from him on the edge. You guys will see. He is very, very impressive to watch. He is piecing everything together and I am really excited for the season he’s going to have.”
Young was the 17th ranked JUCO player in last year’s cycle. He was the second ranked edge rusher of that group, per 247Sports. The 6-3, 243 pound pass rusher committed to Jeremy Pruitt back in December, and stuck with the Vols through the coaching change.
New defensive coordinator Tim Banks is now set to benefit from that decision as he reworks the entire Tennessee front seven. Young is expected to join Baron and Roman Harrison in the rotation up front, as that trio leads Tennessee into a new era on the edge.
“My technique was one of my biggest focuses,” Young said last week. “During the spring, I kind of struggled with that a little bit. Here now in fall camp, I’ve gotten way better with that — my stance and everything. That was my main focus, my technique.”
Young is an incredible story. He graduated high school back in 2017 and ended up managing a Dollar General store over the next year. He tried out for the football team at Georgia Military College and made the team in 2019, where he put up seven sacks and 31 tackles. His following season was canceled due to COVID-19, but the word was already out. Young pulled offers from Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida State and UCF, choosing Tennessee over all of them.
Now Young has been on campus since the spring, and he’s making the most of his time so far.
“He’s a guy who I think our strength staff, Coach Schmidt and our whole staff, did an unbelievable job,” outside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler said. “He’s faster and he’s more flexible and a lot more explosive. He’s a guy that keeps on progressing and he can be as good as he wants to be.”
The Tennessee defense is already a totally different looking group, following the losses of Bryce Thompson, Henry To’o To’o, Quavaris Crouch, Deandre Johnson and several others. It’s expected to be weakness this fall, but having a guy with a legitimate fastball coming off the edge would certainly help.
Young has been one of the best stories so far this season. He’s one to keep an eye on individually as the Volunteers hit the field next month.