Citrus Bowl a family affair for Notre Dame WR Michael Young and uncle Joseph Addai
ORLANDO, Fla. — Joseph Addai feels for Archie Manning.
The former LSU running back, whose nephew happens to be Notre Dame freshman wide receiver Michael Young, reached his second Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in 2010. His quarterback, of course, was future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning.
His opponent was the New Orleans Saints.
And therein hatched the problem.
Peyton’s famous father, Archie Manning, played nearly 11 seasons with the Saints and later set down roots in New Orleans.
“So who does Peyton’s dad go for?” Addai explained on Wednesday, five days before No. 14 Notre Dame (9-3) meets No. 16 LSU (9-3) in Monday's Citrus Bowl. “Does he go for Peyton and the Colts or does he go for his home team? I look at it as a two-way situation.
“I’m going to always go for LSU. LSU is a part of me. But when you have somebody close to you, you want them to do great. You want them to take advantage of the situation they’re in.
"So it’s a win-win. I would love for LSU to win, but I want Mike to do what he has to do. I want him to be able to go out there and enjoy his whole experience and take advantage of his time.”
Indeed, Young may get more time in Monday’s bowl game than previously expected. Notre Dame will take the field inside Camping World Stadium without its second-, third- and fourth-leading receivers: wide receivers Chase Claypool (injury) and Kevin Stepherson (suspension) and tight end Alize Mack (suspension).
Those three combined for 67 catches, 927 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
Meanwhile, in a forgettable regular season, Young — a 5-foot-10, 190-pound freshman — caught just two passes for 10 yards in 12 games.
But no matter. The Louisiana native has been gifted a second chance at a memorable first impression.
Addai, for one, understands how fleeting those opportunities can be.
“Going to college and playing in front of that kind of crowd, I was nervous,” admitted Addai, who managed just eight carries and 27 rushing yards in his freshman season at LSU in 2001. “I always took a back seat as far as my attitude.
"If I could tell Mike what he needs to do, right now he has a chance to go play. Make it happen. Take advantage of it. You don’t have to wait until everybody else gets those opportunities. I wish I had taken more of the opportunity back then when I was a freshman.
“For Mike, man, take advantage of this opportunity right now. Go out there and try to kill it, right? Make sure the world gets to see who you are.”
Brian Kelly, at least, is noticing. On Wednesday, following Notre Dame’s first practice in Orlando, the eighth-year Irish coach said Young has “had his best practices” in December.
As a teammate tasked with covering him, Julian Love agrees.
“He’s really fast. He’s really quick-twitch, and he’s tough,” Notre Dame’s sophomore cornerback said. “He’ll get hit. He’s not that big, but if he gets hit, he’ll get back up and keep coming back. That’s something you just love to see.”
For whatever reason, LSU didn’t see enough to offer Young a scholarship out of nearby Destrehan (La.) High School, in 2017.
It’s a decision head coach Ed Orgeron and Co. may live to regret on Monday.
“Definitely, I have a chip on my shoulder,” Young said prior to signing with Notre Dame last winter. “I just want to play (LSU). 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.”
So here he is, preparing for an increased role in a New Year’s Day bowl against the team he grew up watching.
Against the team his uncle played for.
On Monday, Addai — who scored 23 touchdowns at LSU before adding 48 more scores in a six-year NFL career — won’t be the only one weighing conflicting allegiances.
“My son has another team to cheer for now, said Addai, who lives in Houston with his wife, Keion, and sons Jaylen and Jaxon. “It’s always been LSU, LSU, LSU.
“But now he’s seeing his cousin on TV and he gets a chance to live through him. So he has another cheering section going now.”
So, at 1 p.m. on Monday, which cheering section will Joseph Addai belong to?
“Out of respect for LSU and Mike, I will stay neutral,” the proud uncle declared with a hearty laugh.