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Usama Young: Behind The Facemask

Posted Aug 19, 2010

Saint went from serving fans to playing on field

Veteran Free Safety Usama Young has had a lot of success on special teams. After appearing in 12 games in the 2009 regular season, Young was able to contribute in the post season as well including two special teams tackles in the Super Bowl vs. the Indianapolis Colts. Young was selected in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft from Kent State. Since then, he has made the shift from cornerback to free safety. The DC area native won the “Super Ad” competition among players, and filmed a commercial that aired during the Super Bowl broadcast.

Young spoke with NewOrleansSaints.com about his commercial, facing the MVP in practice, and playing Madden football.

You entered and won the “Super Ad” competition. What was your video about? It was a childhood memory. They brought me in to a trailer, a network trailer, and they asked me to tell them a story about football. That was the first thing that came to mind. I worked at Fed Ex Field at RFK Stadium when I was little, growing up in the DC area. I could never keep a job, but that was the one job that I could hold on to when I was little. I really wasn’t doing the job; I was out there imagining myself being out there on the field. I was supposed to be selling lemonade or cotton candy, but in the commercial they changed it to me selling snow-cones. It was a funny story. I told them that I used to imagine myself out there on the field.  I used to imagine I was Deion Sanders out there, high stepping and everything. I ended up winning the Super Ad. Coming back the next year, I not only had a commercial air, but I got to play in a Super Bowl too. It was a dream come true.

How did it feel being in the Super Bowl just one year after that? It was amazing. My father was in the commercial with me and at the end of it, I said “Now I’m in the Super Bowl!” My dad said, “It’s just a commercial, son.” It was crazy that you go from being in the commercial to playing in the actual game that you dreamed of all of your life. It was an amazing feeling.

Talk a little bit about your role with the team thus far. How have things changed? It hasn’t really changed too much from last year. Since my rookie year, I moved from cornerback to safety. Just like every year, you have to go in and compete for the starting job knowing that every rep counts in practice and the preseason. You have to go all out. I have only played free safety for the past two years, so I am still kind of a utility player doing anything they need me to. I’ve been playing corner, nickel, dime, safety, whatever. This year, the focus has been mainly on free safety. At the same time, I know that I need to hold on to all of those cornerback skills. I need to keep the same kind of agility and athletic movements. It’s been a good camp. It’s been fun, but it’s been hard. It hasn’t been too much of a change.

You have had a lot of success on special teams. Talk a bit about how important special teams is to a team. Coming in, I looked at it as any way that I can get on the field, then that’s what I will do. Coming in every year since my rookie year, I know that the more I can do, the better it is. The better my chances are of playing on this team and having an impact. I try and go out on special teams and make plays whether it’s at the gunner or wing on punt team, or penetrator on kickoff team, I am going out to make tackles. As long as I am lining up on this field, I am happy. My ultimate goal is to start, but when it all comes down to it, you have to be special to do special teams. That’s whats major to me.

Talk a little bit about this complicated defense. How much different is it than other defenses you have seen before? I haven’t been in the league too long, but this is different than the defense that we were previously playing. We switch it up a lot. Gregg Williams throws a lot at the offense and tries to confuse the quarterback a little bit. It’s good because you always keep them on their heels. As a defense, you want the offense to be a little mixed up and confused when they go out there. It helps our cause to mix them up because we throw out a lot of different looks. It has them playing a little slower.

What is it like going against a very talented offense every day in practice? You have no choice but to get better going against these guys. You have Drew Brees in there, the MVP. You have weapons at the wide receiver position, athletic running backs and tight ends. Everybody is fast out there. It makes it tough to play, but it prepares you for the next opponent. Playing against an offense like that, you can’t help but get better.

What do you like to do off the field? My most favorite thing is that I like to sleep. I like to lay back and relax. I usually get with my boys, but during camp you don’t get too much time to get horizontal. I like to just get in the bed and relax for a little bit. Maybe get out on the couch and watch TV or play video games. We get together as a defensive backfield and we go out to eat and just chill. Maybe see a movie or something. That kind of camaraderie keeps us close.

Are you going to play Madden more this year now that Drew Brees is on the cover? You know what’s funny, I didn’t touch Madden last year because my rating was so low. But this year, with my teammate being on the cover, I have to play the game.

Where are your favorite places to go in New Orleans? I would have to say the French Quarter. It’s historic. You see some crazy things down there, and some wild folks. It’s a good time. Whenever my family comes in town, that’s the place that I take them first. You have to show them. Then, it’s a catastrophe that happened, but everybody wants to see the lower 9th and the 9th ward to see what type of stuff has gone through there. I like to take my family everywhere when they come through. I have seen the tourist parts, so I am more-so a homebody now. I just like to go out to eat. Emeril’s is my favorite spot.

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