For most of his young life, Sean Young didn’t want to go to Cal. Enter new Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford – now it looks like Berkeley fans will be able to see Young at Memorial Stadium on a regular basis.
The Berkeley High senior is one of the fastest wide receivers on the West Coast, running a blazing 4.48 seconds over 40 yards. He verbally committed to Cal during the summer, though he hasn’t signed anything yet. The official signing date for football recruits is in February.
Young is one of many reasons the Yellowjackets are unbeaten at 6-0 this season. On an offense that likes to run the ball, he is the main receiver and has nine receptions for 230 yards and three touchdowns. The Berkeley coaches have also been using his speed in the running game, with Young running for 280 yards and four touchdowns.
Young didn’t make any catches in Berkeley High’s 34-28 overtime win Friday night over Hercules, but he ran a double reverse for 37 yards and a touchdown that put Berkeley up 28-12 in the fourth quarter.
“He’s made some big plays for us this year,” Berkeley head coach Matt Bissell said. “He’s a great player, and we hope to ride him a few more games.”
A few Pac-10 schools noticed what Young has done through the years. UCLA, Washington, Arizona and Cal all vied for his services.
Young grew up near Cal, but the Golden Bears didn’t exactly wow him. He went to home games at Memorial Stadium, but Cal’s losing records in recent years, including a 1-10 season last year, kept him focused on his childhood goal – going south to UCLA.
His decision came down to the Bears and Bruins.
“Pretty much all my life I’d always wanted to go to UCLA,” he said. “I just grew up liking the Bruins and I always wanted to go to school there. That was a big factor, too. I really didn’t think about football much until I started getting better.”
The arrival of Tedford and a potent offensive attack has given Cal a 5-3 record and changed Young’s mind.
“I like how [Tedford] passes the ball,” he said. “I think I’ll have a chance to do well there.”
“I was never interested in going to Cal when [former coach Tom Holmoe] was there. But knowing that Tedford was coming in there and bringing in a good offense, which I see already, they really interested me a lot. I knew a lot about him and knew at Oregon he helped to build it into a powerhouse. I knew with him coming to Cal he’d be doing the same thing.
“I was deciding between UCLA and Cal. I weighed which school would benefit me more, and I thought it’d be really great if I could go to Cal. My family can come up to watch me, and I can stay close to home, close to my family.”
Young is aware that Tedford’s instant success at Cal could lead other colleges or professional teams to woo Tedford away from Berkeley, a la the San Francisco 49ers and former Cal coach Steve Mariucci.
Such a scenario, he says, would be one of the only ways he might not end up a Golden Bear.
“I was actually thinking about that,” Young said. “It really started to scare me. If Tedford left, I’d really have to rethink things. It would be really big. I don’t think I’d go there.”
Whichever school lands the talented Young will find a receiver with a strong work ethic who improved his game between his junior and senior years. As a junior, Young joined the Berkeley High track team, running the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay, because he wanted to get faster for football.
“I heard that a lot of football players run track because it’ll help you get faster, and a lot of colleges wanted to see that,” he said. “It’s a fun experience also just to run track.”
Young’s previous best time in the 40 was 4.59 seconds. At a football camp last summer, he clocked in at 4.48.
Bissell appreciates Young’s offseason work, which has made a noticeable impact on his game. Last year, he scored seven touchdowns all season but has already matched that through six games this year.