UCLA linebacker Kenny Young has been preparing all season to take over.
Young, a freshman, is viewed as the heir apparent to senior Eric Kendricks, the Bruins’ award-winning linebacker. Young has one final game to work with Kendricks when UCLA plays Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl on Friday.
“It started in [training] camp,” Young said. “I had one year with this guy, so I was going to soak up everything I could.”
There was a lot to absorb. Kendricks set UCLA’s career-record for tackles with 471. He won the Butkus Award and the Lott IMPACT Trophy, and was named second-team Walter Camp All-American.
“He’s off to do great things in the future,” Young said. “I’ll start my legacy when he leaves.”
Kendricks has had a hand in framing that. The biggest thing he taught Young was consistency.
“He has the same approach, same mentality, same mind-set every day,” Young said. “He’s a guy who can put the team on his back.”
Young, though, will try to carve out his own niche.
He is considered to have a high ceiling. Young was a coveted player at River Ridge (La.) High last season. He had 34 tackles in 12 games for the Bruins this season.
“I don’t think it’s stepping into anyone’s shoes,” Young said. “It’s about developing what I came here to do. E.K. has his legacy, and I won’t be able to do some of the things he can do. I’m a different person. I’m a different type of player.”
But, he said, one thing they do have in common is “we work hard.”