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Q&A With Michael Young Jr.: Facing Ahmad Gardner & Coby Bryant, Favorite WRs, What Makes Cincinnati Special

Michael Young of Cincinnati with the football.

CINCINNATI, OHIO - OCTOBER 08: Michael Young Jr. #8 of the Cincinnati Bearcats runs with the ball in the first quarter against the Temple Owls at Nippert Stadium on October 08, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

After spending three seasons at Notre Dame, wide receiver Michael Young transferred to Cincinnati. That turned out to be a wise decision for the Louisiana native.

Young finished his Cincinnati tenure with 57 catches for 685 yards and five touchdowns. He worked the middle of the field for the majority of his time with the Bearcats.

With the NFL Draft approaching very soon, Young is hopeful that he has shown enough promise - on and off the field - to warrant an opportunity at the next level.

We caught up with Michael Young to discuss his decision to transfer from Notre Dame to Cincinnati, which wide receivers he likes to study on film and more.

The Spun: How has this draft process been for you?

Michael Young Jr.: It’s been a little hectic, but it’s also been rewarding because you’re working towards a lifelong dream. There are so many emotions that go into this process. It’s stressful, exciting and worrisome. But I’m trying to take each day on and enjoy the process.

The Spun: Cincinnati had a historic pro day, attracting all 32 NFL teams to the event. What was that experience like?

MY: It was awesome. For a lot of us, it’s the first step in fulfilling a dream. None of us were really worried. We were all amped up for this moment. We knew we were going to go out there and put on a show. It was that camaraderie that helped us. When we got out there, we just showcased what we can do. It was a super fun experience.

The Spun: Were you pleased with the performance you had at your pro day?

MY: Most definitely. I’m my own worst critic. If I’m going to be picky, I’d say I could’ve done a few things better. But I’m pleased with what I put out, and I’m excited about the positive feedback I’ve received from it.

The Spun: You played for Notre Dame and Cincinnati. What made Cincinnati such a special program to play for?

MY: It was fun and energetic every day. Coach Fickell allows us to play free. Obviously, we don’t play a stupid brand of football and make bad decisions. But we found a way to get our work done while having fun doing it. That kind of confident, exciting environment is infectious. It resonates through all our players and makes it fun to be in that type of culture. It’s so tough to even put it into words. Until you’ve been in it, there’s nothing like it.

The Spun: What was it like going up against defensive backs like Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner and Coby Bryant in practice?

MY: They were tough, but they were fun. If I were to toot my own horn, I think I got my fair share of wins. But there were a lot of days where Ahmad and Coby got the better of me. They’re such great players. They’re smart, instinctive and tough. Going up against those players only helped elevate my game because you had to find ways to beat them. I’d had to constantly think about how I could get the advantage over them in playoffs. I’m thankful for it.

The Spun: What part of your game improved the most during your college career?

MY: I’d say the understanding of running routes. That was probably the biggest jump in my development. I understood routes and coverages at Notre Dame, but to know when I should use this release compared to that one and stuff like that is so important. Once you start going up against better competition, you realize you need to run certain routes different ways. That was the biggest thing for me. You got to know when, where, why and how to do certain things.

The Spun: Which wide receivers do you like to study?

MY: I look at Keenan Allen, Julio Jones and Davante Adams. I also like to watch a lot of Odell Beckham Jr. and Doug Baldwin. I think Doug Baldwin’s style of play is very similar to mine. I like to watch so many receivers just because I’m a student of the game.

The Spun: You brought up Doug Baldwin. He made so many tough catches over the middle of the field. What’s your mindset in those situations?

MY: I never necessarily cared about taking the hits early in my career. I was always focused on running my routes. Then when I got to Cincinnati, Coach Brown told me, ‘You’re going to get hit anyway, so you might as well catch it.’ That changed my whole mindset. I’m going to make myself available for the quarterback no matter what.

The Spun: Desmond Ridder recently picked Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’ as his song if he’s in charge of the AUX cord. Now I ask you, what song are you picking?

MY: I would say ‘The Show Goes On’ by Lupe Fiasco.

The Spun: What will it mean to you to end up on an NFL roster this year?

MY: It’ll mean everything for me. I’ll be so grateful for the opportunity. In the back of my mind though, I’ll be telling myself that the job isn’t finished. I always felt like I can make it in the NFL, but I want to win a Super Bowl and be one of the best receivers in the game. I want to show that I can stay in this league for a long time.

Young is a soft-spoken wide receiver who's a student of the game. When he's not on the field, he's constantly finding ways to perfect his craft.

Although he might not be the most flashy wideout available in this year's draft class, there's a lot to like about Michael Young Jr. both as a player and leader.

You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.