Young has no regrets

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2010

After nearly 40 years playing and coaching football, Ernest Young finally got to check off the greatest accomplishment on a long list.

Young, a Vicksburg native, was inducted into the Alcorn State athletic hall of fame last week. The 57-year-old was a three-time All-Southwestern Athletic Conference defensive back for the Braves from 1973-77 and went on to play in the NFL and USFL before settling into a high school coaching career.

“That’s a great honor to be able to play at a school, work at your alma mater and end up being inducted to the hall of honor,” Young said. “I’m just elated by that and humbled. I feel my career has been completed.”

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Young first starred at Rosa A. Temple High School in Vicksburg. He helped the Buccaneers beat New Orleans’ St. Augustine High School in the 1970 Red Carpet Bowl — one of the most memorable in the game’s nearly 50-year history.

That was also the last of 39 consecutive wins for Temple. Integration closed the school at the end of the 1970-71 school year, and it became North Vicksburg. Young played there for two seasons before heading to Alcorn, where he really shined.

Young had 22 interceptions in his career and returned eight for touchdowns. In addition to his All-SWAC honors, he was a two-time NAIA All-American.

He later went on to play for the Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints in the NFL, and wrapped up his professional career with the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions in 1984.

When his playing days were done, Young went into coaching. He spent time on Alcorn’s staff during the heyday of Steve McNair in the early 1990s, and later coached in the high school ranks at Vicksburg and Madison Parish.

He retired from coaching last year, but still teaches at Madison’s alternative school. He said lessons learned during his football career have served him well long after his playing days ended.

“What I accomplished was how to meet people and get along with people. It taught me the game of life as well as the game of football,” Young said. “It teaches you how to get over hurdles. If I had it to do again, I’d do it the same way. I had a long career. It’s been a joyful one and a blessed one.”