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Q&A With Dareke Young: Lenoir-Rhyne Career, Turning Heads At Shrine Bowl, Shattering The "Small School" Narrative

Dareke Young for Lenoir-Rhyne catches the ball.

(Courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne)

Don't let the "small school prospect" label fool you, Dareke Young has NFL talent.

Young, a 6-foot-2 wide receiver out of Lenoir-Rhyne, had a breakout season in 2019. The talented playmaker had 25 catches for 515 yards and eight touchdowns. That's an impressive 20.6 yards per reception. He also had 335 rushing yards that season.

Unfortunately for Young, his 2020 season was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he proved in 2021 that he's still an explosive player.

Despite appearing in just five games, Young had 25 catches for 303 yards and four scores. His production and overall potential earned him an invite to the East-West Shrine Game. Let's just say he didn't disappoint scouts in Las Vegas.

We caught up with Young to discuss his experience at the Shrine Bowl, the "small school" narrative, Lenoir-Rhyne's recent history and more.

The Spun: You were able to compete at the East-West Shrine Bowl earlier this year. How has this draft process been for you?

Dareke Young: The draft process has been going really well. I’m down in Pensacola, Florida. I’m training at Exos with a lot of players from the Division-I level. Going into the Shrine Bowl, I always felt like I could compete with Division I players, I just didn’t have the opportunity to. I was blessed by getting an invitation to the game, and I felt like I had a great week down there in Las Vegas. It was definitely a great experience.

The Spun: You tested out very well at the Shrine Bowl. What are you hoping to show at your pro day?

DY: The main thing is my route running. Scouts know that I’m strong, explosive and can jump high. My main focus is definitely route running. I feel like I’m a good route runner. I just need to go out there and show it.

The Spun: Speaking of route running, what’s your favorite route to run?

DY: I would say a post. It allows me to showcase my speed. I feel like I’m a 4.3 guy.

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

DY: I’ll give you three names. I like to watch Julio Jones. I feel like he’s the best receiver to watch because he gets in and out of his cuts so easily. I also like to watch A.J. Brown and Andre Johnson.

The Spun: You've been called a “small-school prospect” in the past. How do you use that as motivation?

DY: I feel like I’m just as good as Division-I players, I just so happened to go to a Division-II school. I don’t take it as disrespect. Once I get to the NFL, that “small school prospect” label will get thrown out the window because I’ll be on the same level as everyone else.

The Spun: Are you happy with the way your college career played out?

DY: I had a great experience in college. I was under three different coaching staffs so I’m used to adapting to different situations. I was able to win two conference championships. I’ll cherish my time at Lenoir-Rhyne forever.

The Spun: Have you been able to receive any pointers from Kyle Dugger about what to expect in the NFL?

DY: I’ve hit him up a few times during this process. One thing I took away from what he said was to eliminate the distractions and keep as many positive people around you as possible. You want to eliminate the negativity so you can just focus on your goals.

The Spun: You’ve been adamant that you’re willing to play special teams. Some players don’t want to take on that role. Why are you of the opposite mentality?

DY: I just feel like special teams is the easiest way to get on the field. You’ll be surprised by how many games are won on special tams. There are a lot of hidden yards that can win you a ball game that are won on special teams. It’s an important part of the game and I don’t mind playing it at all.

The Spun: Do you feel like what you and Kyle have been able to accomplish the past two years has opened some doors for Division-II players?

DY: I feel like Kyle and I have definitely opened the door, but you’ve had guys that came before us, like Adam Thielen, Matthew Judon and Tyreek Hill. They’ve opened the door for us, and now Kyle and I are opening the door for future athletes. I feel like Division-II schools usually have one player to come out of their school. Kyle and I, however, are putting Lenoir-Rhyne on the map.

The Spun: What has been your motivation throughout this process?

DY: I just have goals. It’s always been a dream of mine to make the NFL. I’m just trying to keep my eyes on the prize. I’m surrounded by great players and coaches who are getting the best out of me every day. I’m staying focused on my goals. I want to take care of my family.

The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in Dareke Young?

DY: I would say you’re getting a team guy, on the field and in the locker room. I’m willing to do everything I can to help the team win. Whether that’s I’m at wide receiver or playing special teams, I’m going to embrace my role.

Young has the overall skillset to make it in the pros. Even if it takes him some time to adjust to a pro-style system, he can make an impact on special teams.

After seeing Kyle Dugger shine in 2021, NFL teams shouldn't be worried that Dareke Young went to Lenoir-Rhyne for football. The only concern should be whether or not they're able to select him in the upcoming draft.

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