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June 30, 2006

Young looking to help out on line

The first thing you notice about Kevin Young is his enormous size.

At 6-foot-5, 330 pounds, he's big. Very big.

In football, though, merely possessing a large body isn't enough. You must have a mean streak, a warrior mentality, as well in order to succeed.

Young has that, too.

Put those two ingredients together and you have the recipe for an accomplished offensive lineman.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is relying on Young and possibly two or three others from USC's stellar offensive line class to contribute this season and help solidify an offensive line unit that had just seven scholarship players available for spring practice.

Young said he will be ready to go when he's called upon.

"The possibilities of playing this season are good because right now they need a right guard and that's where they want me to play," Young said. "I'm going to try as hard as I can to get the job done and get the position. I want to work hard. I definitely want to play as a freshman."

But Young clearly understands he will have to battle for a spot on the two-deep depth chart, that nothing is conceded to players at the major college level.

Everything must be earned.

"Right now we all look good on paper, we all look good on the internet," Young said. "It's all about hard work. We're all great players but it's going to come down to who is going to fight for the position."

Early playing time was one of the key factors that attracted him to USC, said Young, who arrived in Columbia on Tuesday for orientation.

He will take one or two classes during the second session of summer school.

"I want to try to get into the business program," Young said.

The coaches want him down to 325 pounds when the season starts, meaning he must drop five pounds over the next eight weeks.

Although Young graduated from a small school - Catholic High School in Clearwater, Fla. - he was rated a four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 20 offensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com.

Young is part of a heralded freshman class that Spurrier will seek to construct the foundation of future success. Young understands much is expected from the group of 2006 signees.

"This is definitely a big year for Coach Spurrier and the entire Gamecock team," Young said. "We're hoping to come in and get the job done and see what we can do."

Young played in the California-Florida All-Star game along with fellow USC OL signee Seaver Brown from Countryside High School in Clearwater, Fla. The Florida players spent the week touring Disneyland and other tourist attractions in Southern California before blanking the Golden Staters, 20-0, on New Year's Eve in the annual showdown at Cal State-Fullerton.

Mother Nature, though, didn't cooperate on game day.

"It was one of the worst football playing conditions you will ever see," Young said. "It was freezing. It was pouring. It was muddy. But at the same time it was still fun. I got to meet some great players that will probably do some great things in college. I had a great time out there. It was just horrible on game day."

Young and Brown spent part of the spring and early summer training together in Clearwater. Young and Brown will also room together at USC, along with Hutch Eckerson and Chris Smelley.

"We've been doing conditioning four days a week with sprints and agility drills and the other three days we've been doing strictly weights," Young said. "We've been doing a lot of running. I've been doing more than what the (workout plan provided by USC) asks for as far as the running. It's rough because it's been pretty hot down here. But I'm definitely trying to run more."

Young hopes his hard work will pay off when he joins the summer conditioning workouts early next week.

"The game is a lot faster and a lot more difficult at the SEC level," Young said. "Getting adjusted to that kind of standard will be tough but it's something you just have to overcome. At first it may be a little difficult."

Young was beloved at Catholic High School for the intensity and ill-natured demeanor he brought to the football field. Young broke his wrist early in the 2005 season but had a cast put on it and never missed a down. Later, he suffered a fractured ankle in a state playoff game but kept on playing after it was heavily taped up.

"Kevin plays with great intensity and nastiness," Catholic High School coach Michael Jalazo said. "It is almost like a warrior mentality. He has a great work ethic and comes from a good family. He is very humble and appreciates what he has."

Given his immense talent, it's no surprise numerous schools knocked on Young's door. In the end, Young turned down scholarship offers from in-state powers Florida State and Miami to sign with the Gamecocks.

Young still faces questions from people in Clearwater inquiring into his decision to leave the state.

"They've asked me a lot of questions," Young said. "The one thing I love about South Carolina is the fans and the fact that they're the underdog. They're coming back fast, which is what I really like. I wanted to go to a school that hasn't won much yet and definitely get the job done. I wanted to make history."

Like most of the other USC players hailing from the Sunshine State, Young is looking forward to the showdown on Nov. 11 against Florida in The Swamp.

"Some of my friends are saying that Coach Spurrier and the Gamecocks can't beat the Gators again," Young said. "But a lot of them think he's in the perfect place. He's an offensive genius. He can take less talented players and still beat teams like Florida and Tennessee. He's a great coach."

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