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Player spotlight: Is Byron Young the next rags to riches story?

From Dollar General to NFL rookie, Byron Young has a story to tell

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Of all the stories covered during the NFL draft, there might not have been a more incredible story than University of Tennessee’s Byron Young. When the Los Angeles Rams drafted Young in Round 3 with the 77th overall pick, a story of perseverance and beating the odds became reality for him.

Burger King & Dollar General

Prior to playing college football, Byron Young was working as a part-time employee at a Burger King in Georgia. To make ends meet, he picked up a second job as an assistant manager at a Dollar General. What kept him grounded was that he was committed to being the best employee he could be while his college football dreams were being worked out.

“I was a great employee, and I worked two jobs at one time,” Young said. “But (playing football) was always on my mind. I just didn’t know where to start, and I thought it was impossible.” - Byron Young

It is easy to see now that Young’s work ethic was his driving force. He worked tirelessly at the fast-food chain restaurant, cooking hamburgers and cleaning the store. He stocked shelves just like Hall of Fame quarterback, Kurt Warner.

Georgia Military College, COVID-19, & Circle K

Young received his first opportunity with Georgia Military College. After seeing a flyer about tryouts, Young walked on and made the team. A solid 2019 campaign gave him tape and highlights to send to other colleges and recruiters.

Just as he was making progress, COVID-19 cancelled the 2020 season and left Young wondering if he would ever get to play football again... In the waiting, he had to continue working in order to pay for school. This time Young picked up a job at a Circle K gas station.

University of Tennessee

As it turned out, the pandemic had a silver lining. Recruiters desperate for adding talent caught wind of Young’s highlights and film from Georgia Military College. South Alabama, Old Dominion, Tennessee, and a number of other SEC schools had taken notice and were sending him offers.

After two successful years in Knoxville, the edge rusher finished with 83 tackles (42 solo), 12.5 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss, and one interception. For a burger-flipping and store-closing employee that’s not too shabby, especially within the SEC.

On Friday, April 28th, Byron Young experienced a moment that he will never forget - when Les Snead called his phone to inform him that the Los Angeles Rams would be adding his talents to their organization.

It’s easy to think now that Byron Young’s journey is complete. But in his eyes, it’s just getting started. And there is reason to believe it could be something special with his type of passion and work ethic...