I’m not sure if Redskins fullback Darrel Young is a fan of literature, but his life has captured the essence of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.”
Coming out of Villanova as a linebacker, Young went undrafted and unsigned in the 2009 NFL Draft. Most players in that position would give up on their dreams, but not Young.
When Young finally did get his chance in training camp, he couldn’t make the cut and didn’t make the team. Most players in that position would move on to other opportunities, but not Young. He focused on improving, and finally got his chance in 2010–as a fullback.
Few players have the physical skills to make a position switch at the professional level, and even fewer have the mental fortitude to handle the frustrations. Young showed that he was willing and capable of playing fullback at a high level last year, and enjoyed his first season as a starter in 2011.
Breaking the mold has been a theme in Young’s football career, starting at its very roots. Young grew up in an Army household with 12 brothers and sisters. When many of his siblings were envisioning their own careers in the military, Darrel was dedicating himself to a future in football.
Darrel is very close to his brother, David, who has done several tours in the Middle East in recent years. While Darrel knows that he could pursue a military career, talking to his brother reminds him that he’s better suited for football (via Zac Boyer of the The Free Lance-Star):
“I said that if football didn’t work out, [the military] would be something that I’d fall back on, but after seeing what he goes though every day, I’m don’t know if I could live like that.”
With Young’s success on the gridiron this season, it doesn’t look like he’ll be needing to consider a second career any time soon, but that doesn’t mean he’s shying away from service. Together with the NFL, Young announced on his personal blog Saturday that he will be visiting military servicemen and women in Korea in the near future:
Myself personally, I will be traveling to Korea at the end of this month to visit military troops. I will be traveling as part of something that the NFL is trying to do to let our troops know that we are thankful for what they are doing for this country by putting their lives on the line everyday.
Young also noted that he expects most of his teammates to be working hard at the facilities throughout the offseason, and to be very active in the community.
Out on the football field, Young understands better than most what it means to play a game for a living. No matter how far his hard work takes him, he’ll always have good reason to be grateful.