Special to The Dallas Examiner
CEDAR HILL – Kevin Young Jr. has a special ability to take a five-yard pass and turn it into a 30, 40 or even 50-yard gain.
“My vision on the field helps me get to where I need to be,” he said. “I’m always looking past the defender and seeing the moves I need to make in order to get a touchdown.”
Young, a 5-foot-8-inch, 171-pound Cedar Hill High School senior, has been a catalyst to the Longhorns success this season. He’s rushed for 489 yards and six touchdowns and caught 12 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown.
“As long as I get the ball in my hands, I can make something happen,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun making defenders miss, scoring touchdowns and making a contribution to the team.”
Cedar Hill (5-1, 3-1) will enter the Nov. 27 game at Mansfield (3-4, 2-2) ranked ninth in Dave Campbell’s Texas Football 6A Top 25 Rankings. The Longhorns are ranked 24th nationally, according to maxpreps.com.
From a national and state media standpoint, Cedar Hill senior quarterback Kaidon Salter has drawn a great deal of attention. He committed to the University of Tennessee in May and was invited to the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp over the summer.
But Salter is the first to credit his backfield counterpart with helping to drive the team’s success.
“He understands the weight room and classroom,” Salter said. “With he and I in the backfield, I just want to say ‘good luck’ (to opponents).”
Cedar Hill head football coach Carlos Lynn became the Longhorns varsity coach in 2017 – the same season that Young was a member of the freshman team.
“Kevin is the hardest worker on the team,” Lynn said. “He’s more mature and hungrier this year.”
Like Salter, Young grew up in DeSoto, before becoming a Longhorn. Young moved to Cedar Hill in the sixth grade and attended Joe Wilson Intermediate School and Permenter Middle School.
Young has received interest from several Football Bowl Series programs but has narrowed his choices to Louisiana-Monroe and New Mexico State. FBS “Group of Five” programs have become more and more competitive against “Power Five” conference opponents in recent years, and Young could help continue that trend.
Young was a leader on last season’s district championship team, rushing for 751 yards and 11 touchdowns. But while he was one of the top running backs last season, he’s now the go-to-guy, having led the Longhorns in rushing in four games this season.
That was never more apparent than in the victory over his former hometown, DeSoto – a 49-42 triumph in the annual Battle of Belt Line Game; he caught seven passes for 103 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 69 yards and a score. Young improved to 2-0 against the Eagles.
“I recognized a few of the DeSoto players from my elementary school days,” Young said. “That rivalry is always fun and such a great environment.”
Young rushed for a career-high 122 yards in a 28-14 loss to Duncanville, which has one of the top defenses in the United States.
Young Jr’s success is no surprise to Longhorns running backs coach Zach Kelley.
“Kevin is a great young man who makes plays on the field, but he makes it easy to coach him as well,” Kelley said. “He’s unselfish, coachable and one of the hardest workers on the team. His development from junior to senior year has been amazing. He took it upon himself to learn more about the game and improve as a leader. Everything continues to trend up for Kevin.”
Young credits Kelley with helping him develop in the backfield.
“He’s taught me how to be a more patient back – to let the hole develop, make one cut and go,” Young said.
Young also competes in powerlifting and in track and field as a sprinter (100 meter and 200 meter).
His long-term goal is to become a computer engineer or a personal trainer. In the classroom, he always enjoys mathematics and science.
“It’s pretty straightforward – it’s either right or wrong,” Young said. “You show your work, and how you got that answer.”
Young is the oldest of five siblings, and he’s grateful for his family’s support, on and off the football field.
“They’ve been by my side, and they always provide tips on how I could do better,” Young. said. “I don’t know where I’d be without them by my side.”
Like all of his classmates and teammates, Young said there have been obvious challenges associated with COVID-19. But Young, who is enrolled in online learning, is proud of the way everyone has adapted to make the best out of a challenging situation.
“The seniors were sad we couldn’t do spring football, but it made us work harder this season for a state title,” Young said.