KNOXVILLE, TN – November 27, 2021 – Linebacker Byron Young #6 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Caleb Jones/Tennessee Athletics
Tennessee senior defensive end Byron Young has declared for the NFL Draft but will play in the Orange Bowl against Clemson, the Vols star defender announced Thursday afternoon.
Prayed for times like this ?? pic.twitter.com/6cTJRn5T38
— B.Y. (@byron_97) December 22, 2022
“What a ride it has been,” Young said to begin his post.
“Thank you to Vol Nation for welcoming me with open arms to Rocky Top. From when I first stepped on campus, I made sure to give my all for Tennessee every single day and, thanks to the coaching of Coach Garner and Coach Heupel, I became the player and the man I am today.
“The journey has been long and challenging, but everything happens for a reason. From my time at Dollar General to seeing a flyer to try out for Georgia Military College’s football team, every single road led me down the path I was destined for. Through it all, I learned that hard work, determination, and grit can take you wherever you want in life – you just have to work for it.
“With that, I want to say that the job is not finished. I look forward to taking the field with my brothers in the Orange Bowl before declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft.”
Young concluded his message with: “I can’t wait to see Vol Nation in Miami!”
Young declaring for the Draft should come as no surprise, as the former JuCo star just completed his fourth year of college ball. Even though he does have one more year of eligibility due to the free year the NCAA gave players because of COVID-19, Young’s success over the past two seasons made it all but a lock he would take his career to the next level.
The All-SEC First Team selection joins Vols’ offensive lineman Darnell Wright in declaring for the NFL Draft while also choosing to play in the Orange Bowl later this month. Wright went public with his news seven days ago.
Young became one of the best junior college recruits in the 2021 class, instantly making an impact in 2021 before growing to become even more dominant in 2022.
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The Georgetown, South Carolina has been one of the best players for the Tennessee defense over the past two seasons, racking up 80 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, over 10 sacks, a pair of pass deflections and an interception. Young has led the team in sacks with five-and-a-half and five, respectively, over the past two years.
Young has also led the team in tackles for loss each of the past two seasons with 11.5 and 10, respectively. After missing the Vols’ Week 1 matchup against Bowling Green in 2021, Young hasn’t missed a game since.
Young’s senior season efforts earned him a spot on the Coaches All-SEC First Team roster and the Associated Press’ All-SEC Second Team roster.
The 6’3″, 245-pound elite pass rusher received invites to the 2023 East-West Shrine Game and the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl, accepting the invite to the latter. Young will join Darnell Wright in Mobile to play in the Senior Bowl in 2023. Tennessee senior quarterback Hendon Hooker also accepted an invite but of course will not be able to play due to tearing his ACL against South Carolina. Wide receiver Cedric Tillman was the fourth and final Vol to receive an invite to the Senior Bowl, but the Las Vegas native has not accepted the invite, yet.
Young’s incredible backstory and relentless motor on the football field made him a fan favorite among Vol Nation over the past two seasons, and the former Dollar General assistant manager received plenty of Thank You’s and overwhelming support from Vol fans in the comments of his post.
Young will give Tennessee a much-needed presence on the defensive line against Clemson’s offensive line in the Orange Bowl. The Vols and Tigers will square off at 8 p.m. ET on December 30 in Miami for the Capital One Orange Bowl.