Ed Thompson: What are you most proud of from when you look back on your career with Iowa?
Albert Young: First and foremost, receiving my degree is what I'm most proud of right now, but football's been fun. My senior year, things were rough in the middle of the season, but we rallied at the end of the season with a young team and the leadership we had with the seniors. We stumbled in the very last game of the year, but there's an attitude with the guys within the program and the whole "the job is never done" mentality, that I've been able to be around.
Thompson: You must also be proud of finishing the year third in the school's history with 3,173 yards rushing. And you became only the third Hawkeye to exceed the 3,000-yard mark rushing during a career.
Young: Oh yeah, definitely. I've been blessed to be in the situation to do that and to be one of those three. Iowa football has been around for a while, so that's a tribute to the guys that I've been around, and to have had the opportunity that I had.
Thompson: In 2005 you rushed for 1,376 yards, another 803 during your junior year, and almost 1,000 yards your senior year. Talk about the difference in the program from 2005 on that may have impacted your ability to match that 1,300 yard- season.
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Young: The difference between that year and the others was that during my junior I missed two games due to injury. My senior year, we were young on the line, we had a young quarterback, we were young all-around. So teams stacked the box and made up their minds that they were going to stop the run. We also had a lot of injuries, and we had another running back who got involved with the offense, so we had to distribute the ball a little more. I'm definitely bigger, better and faster than I was that year I had the big year. But being the lone back my sophomore year, having a veteran quarterback and veteran receivers on the outside along with a healthy start, there were a lot of positive factors that season.
Thompson: You not only run very well, but you're able to block and catch the ball. Is that what you feel you really bring to the table for NFL teams, that you're a complete-package running back?
Young: Oh yes, definitely. When it comes down to it, you'll find a lot of backs that can't catch and aren't comfortable running routes. The thing about being in Iowa, they gave me opportunities to play in the slot and I'm able to do that. Running routes is no problem. And not just swing routes, so that's a plus. I think the thing that will stand out the most is taking pride in blocking. I think teams like to see a guy that's going to block for their multi-million-dollar quarterback. I'm hoping my game film will speak for itself and team's will recognize that.
Thompson: Back in 2004, you had knee surgery and then you came back and had your best season rushing...
Young: Yeah, that's why I'm able to say I'm a better player than I was. You'll see games where I had 20-plus carries, I was well over 100 yards in each of those games. There weren't many games where I rushed for over 100 yards that you could say we should have lost.
Thompson: Do you think you learned a lot about yourself during that stretch, as far as how hard you could push yourself and how quickly you could get yourself back in shape after something like that?
Young: That was really a tribute to the medical staff we have here and our strength coach, Chris Doyle. That definitely challenged me. A lot of injuries you can overcome, but to be able to overcome an ACL was huge. I learned a lot about myself. And it showed me I definitely knew I was tough enough to play this game.
Thompson: And you had one injury your freshman year, right?
Young: Yeah, some people think I had two season-ending injuries, when it was really one. I broke my fibula during the summer of my freshman year during a scrimmage. I was a true freshman, so coach decided to redshirt me, but I still practiced the full season. That injury only took me out for four to five weeks.
Thompson: You won the Hayden Fry Award. Tell us about a little about it and what you did to earn it.
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Young: The Hayden Fry Award means "the guy with the extra heartbeat," and it goes to a guy on the offense who leads by example — no matter the circumstances — and always plays hard and gives a great effort. It means a lot because it distinguishes you among a group of guys who give a great effort. That's not something we lack in this program at all, so to have that really means a lot because it could have been anyone on the team.
Thompson: I noticed in 2006 you won the Coach's Appreciation Award...
Young: That comes from the coaching staff, and I've been fortunate to get that award three times. That's how the coaches feel about you, what they think of you, and once again distinguishing you among the guys that put in a great effort. So I'm very appreciative of that.
Thompson: Earlier in your Iowa career you ran back about a dozen kickoff returns, is that something you have an aspiration to do at the NFL level?
Young: I think there are some teams where I'll have the opportunity to do that. After that year I was the feature back, so not many teams use their star running back to return kicks. I also was one of the reserve punt returners. I haven't done it in many games, but in practice I'm always returning punts. Hopefully that will show some teams my versatility and my sure hands, and I think it'll only help.
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