Maybe you can imagine how strange it would feel to have three coaches in five years. Maybe you can imagine how weird it would feel to play college football for a program that keeps changing coaches, and keeps losing, and every day you just keep coming to practice.
To go from the intensity of Mark Mangino to the laid-back, hand-on-the-shoulder style of Turner Gill. To finally, the blunt honesty of Charlie Weis.
If you can’t imagine, let Kansas senior Kevin Young explain: “It was definitely not what I expected.”
But for Young, a fifth-year defensive end from Olathe North, all those changes don’t qualify as the most amazing thing about his career in Lawrence. No, the most surreal moments came in the last year, when his father, Jason Young, went back to school to earn another degree, joining his son on campus at Kansas.
Think it’s weird to play for three coaches in five years? How about seeing your dad on campus between classes?
“I’ve run into him a few times,” Young said, smiling. “I stop and talk to him quite a bit.”
Young came from a family of Jayhawks. His brother is a student at the KU School of Medicine. And he grew up attending games at Memorial Stadium, dreaming of playing for the Jayhawks. That’s one reason he never considered leaving or looking for another place to play.
Young’s career began under Mangino in 2009, when he graduated early from Olathe North and showed up on campus for spring ball.
“When Mangino was here,” Young says. “I kind of have a great memory of those practices.”
Next came two long years under Turner Gill, and another program change.
Young started last season, in Weis’ first year, but he also had to listen to his coach call him and his teammates a “pile of crap” while recruiting their supposed replacements. But by the first month of the season, Young had re-earned his starting spot.
Entering this week’s game at Iowa State, Young has recorded 2 1/2 sacks and 23 tackles in his final season. And then there was last weekend, when, at long last, the Jayhawks broke their 27-game Big 12 losing streak.
Young, of course, wishes he could have been part of a few more victories during his time at Kansas. But for an afternoon, he says, he felt like a “kid on Christmas morning.”