By Ryan Arena
While LSU’s loss to Notre Dame Monday certainly pained so many fans in our region, there was a familiar and welcome sight nonetheless for this sports writer, one that flashed open in the back of the Irish end zone in the second half.
Destrehan High School alumnus Mike Young hauled in the first of a pair of Ian Book touchdown passes in the Citrus Bowl, scoring his first collegiate touchdown in his true freshman season on a 6-yard reception.
I remember Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux telling me he felt Young would be a perfect fit for the Irish program both on and off the field, and he stepped up in a big spot. Getting on the field for a team like Notre Dame in one’s first year is a rare accomplishment for anyone, and to register a game-tying score in a bowl game was no doubt a thrill for Mike. It probably didn’t hurt that virtually his entire home state got to watch him do it.
I was lucky enough to cover him during his final two years at Destrehan. As a featured receiver for one of the state’s most prolific offenses as a junior, he caught 37 passes for 586 yards and six touchdowns, then followed that up with 35 catches for 506 yards and six scores as a senior despite having to overcome an early season injury.
Young is one of a growing number of Wildcats wideouts to reach the next level. DHS has become something of a Division I pipeline at the position of late, as wideouts Alfred Smith (signed with Utah), Kirk Merritt (signed with Oregon), John Williams (signed with Memphis) and Justin Jefferson (signed with LSU) joined D-I teams over the past few seasons.
After committing to Notre Dame, Young noted the Fighting Irish coaches liked his versatility and compared him with former Irish receiver Will Fuller, a 2016 first round draft pick in the NFL. If Young can follow in those footsteps, we’ll no doubt be seeing plenty of him in the coming years.