COLUMBIA, S.C. – Malik Young really wanted to play. That’s all it came down to for the South Carolina sophomore offensive tackle, who finally made his first start as a Gamecock on Saturday against Texas A&M.
“It meant a lot to me to start,” Young said. “The journey, I’m not going to say it was really long, but it was longer than I wanted it to be.”
The Pelzer, S.C., native played sparingly in three games as a redshirt freshman. He was ready to step in Saturday with some injuries and struggles on the right side of the offensive line.
Young received the news he would start from offensive line coach Shawn Elliott on the Sunday after the Gamecocks lost 17-10 to Kentucky. His said his mindset did not change after learning he would be the starting right tackle.
“I’m still working every day because I’ve still gotta get better at what I do,” he said. “I haven’t solidified my spot. I just have to keep working and get better every day, so I can solidify my spot.”
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound lineman got his opportunity against a strong Texas A&M defensive line. It was a good measuring stick in his first start.
“So pleased with Malik Young’s effort,” coach Will Muschamp said. “I think we have to clean up some things, technique-wise, help on assignments. But from an effort standpoint, Malik plays with tremendous effort and that’s exciting.”
Young said he plays with a feisty nature, which he said he thinks Muschamp likes.
“I will let the defense know I’m going to be there, all night,” Young said. “I’m not going to go away.”
That’s the type of player Young was happy to finally show he is in his first start. And while he is thankful for the opportunity, he’s hopeful for more.
“I am expecting to start, but I am just going to keep working hard,” Young said. “If I’m supposed to start, I’ll start. It’s all up to me. If I keep working hard, I’ll start.”