Notre Dame WR commit Michael Young bolstered by uncle, former Colt Joseph Addai

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Michael Young has been asking his uncle questions for more than a decade.

You probably know the type: questions about growing up, questions about fitting in.

Questions about winning a Super Bowl in his rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts.

The Notre Dame wide receiver commit’s uncle is Joseph Addai — the same guy that scored 23 touchdowns in his five-year stint as a running back at LSU, that was selected with the 30th overall pick of the 2006 NFL Draft, that amassed 143 total yards in a 29-17 Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears in 2007, that gained 5,901 yards and scored 48 touchdowns in his six-year NFL career.

That guy. So yeah, Young had some questions.

“There was a time I remember that we were at a family function and he was on a couch with me and his mom was behind me, and Mike just kept asking questions,” said Addai, who met Young’s aunt at LSU in 2004 and later married her. “His mom got mad because he was asking so many questions. But I told her that I understood, because a lot of us don’t come from a place where we see athletes (up close).

“A typical kid is not going to see an athlete of that caliber all the time, so Mike had the chance to get all of his questions out. Mike’s never been troublesome as far as the questions that he asks. He’s very informed. He wants to know a lot. He wants to know how the process goes, and you could see that from a young age.”

These days, the questions are a little different. A 5-foot-11, 178-pound wide receiver and consensus three-star recruit, Young caught 35 passes for 507 yards and six touchdowns as a senior at Destrehan High School last season. He was pursued by college programs far and wide. The Destrehan, La., product earned scholarship offers from the likes of Arizona State, Arkansas, Oregon, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame.

If only there was someone familiar with the recruiting process that he could turn to for advice …

Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai celebrates as he runs for a fourth-quarter touchdown Sunday against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

“The biggest thing I told him is to enjoy this whole process,” Addai said. “Ask the questions you need to ask, but understand the process. Get the feeling that you’re supposed to get. If you have a gut feeling about something, more than likely you’re probably right about it.

“Mike is a well-rounded person. He’s a very stand-up guy, very nice, very respectful. I told him if he had a gut feeling about the school he wanted to go to, that’s probably the best choice.”

Needless to say, Michael Young had a gut feeling about Notre Dame.

***

At least, for a while.

Young committed to Notre Dame on July 20, 2016, and remained steadfast in his decision even throughout a tumultuous 4-8 season. But when associate head coach and wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock bolted for Cincinnati, Young’s certainty was suddenly shaken.

Fellow wide receiver commit Jordan Pouncey withdrew his commitment, and Young felt a sliver of doubt.

But just a sliver.

“I was worried for that day when I found out Denbrock was gone,” Young said. “Then the next day I hear Chip (Long) is getting hired (as offensive coordinator) and it’s like, ‘Oh! OK!’ There were no worries after that.”

That’s because, for Young, Notre Dame’s staff upheaval brought an unexpected wave of familiarity. His first scholarship offer came from Arizona State during his junior season, and two of his primary recruiters were — eerily enough — Long and new Irish wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander.

He chose Notre Dame, and eventually Notre Dame chose Long and Alexander, too.

“I was talking to (Notre Dame running backs) coach (Autry) Denson about recruiting and he was saying how everything comes full circle,” Young said. “It hit me once they hired Chip, and then it hit me again once they hired coach Alexander.

“I was just like, ‘Oh, wow. This is so ironic. We were just talking about this two days ago.’”

***

Addai knows what “it” looks like.

Even if he can’t describe what “it” is.

“I saw Mike at this Nike camp, and he looked like a professional running his routes,” said Addai, who lives in Houston with his wife, Keion, and sons, Jaylen and Jaxon. “You look for that special thing in an athlete, and I saw that in him. I didn’t see him as a little boy anymore. I saw a guy that really knows what he wants.

“And it wasn’t just the routes. You know how you see somebody’s demeanor — how he walks from the bench to the field, or how they drink the water? There’s a lot of different stuff that you can notice in an athlete and see that they really get it. That’s what I see in Mike.”

But not everybody sees it.

Local powerhouse LSU — the team his Uncle Joe played for, the team family friends Jordan and Rickey Jefferson played for, the team he grew up rooting for — never offered Young a scholarship.

But no, he’s not bitter.

(And if he was, you could understand why.)

“Honestly, I was an LSU fan. My whole family are LSU fans, mainly because I’m 45 minutes away from it,” said Young, who lives just southeast of Baton Rouge. “My uncle went there. The Jeffersons are like a second family. I always went to their games in support of Jordan and Rickey ever since I was in fifth grade.

“Definitely, I have a chip on my shoulder. I just want to play them. I really do. I hope we make it to the College Football Playoff and we play those guys. A lot of people don’t understand how I got offers from Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Oregon and I’m an in-state talent that everybody’s been raving about, and you guys don’t offer me. I just felt played in a sense. But at the same time, it’s a business, which we all have to understand.

“Maybe they just weren’t looking for a guy like me. Regardless of if they offered me or not, I’d most likely be at Notre Dame anyway.”

Yeah, because that’s where his gut led him. And who knows? Maybe, someday, he’ll score a touchdown in the College Football Playoff to lead the Irish over LSU. Maybe he’ll get drafted and win a Super Bowl, just like his Uncle Joe. Maybe, not so long from now, he’ll be the one answering questions.

But until that day comes, he knows who he can call.

“With everything with recruiting and life situations, we have a relationship where whenever I call him, whatever I want to talk to him about, he’s there,” Young said of Addai. “We’re really, really close.”

mvorel@ndinsider.com

574-235-6428

Twitter: @mikevorel

Three-star wide receiver Michael Young plans to return to Notre Dame for a game in the fall following his Irish Invasion visit. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)