The logo was familiar and so was the setting.
Chancellor Young was born in 1985, when his father, Charle, was the Seahawks’ tight end. He grew up in Woodinville, and as a fan of the local NFL team. He went to Seattle’s O’Dea High School and, eventually, the University of Washington. So he’s no stranger to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, the Seahawks’ headquarters on the shores of Lake Washington.
But Saturday morning, the younger Young was at VMAC to take part in a NFL Regional Combine with the hopes of restarting his once-promising football career.
“My dad let me know about this and I was like, ‘Might as well. I don’t want to live with any regret,’ ” Young said after going through tests and drills with two dozen other safeties. “When I’m 40, I don’t want to have to say, ‘Well, I could have done this.’ So why not give it a try?”
The offensive players took the field in the indoor facility on Saturday afternoon – including quarterback Nathaniel Montana, the son of Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana; Logwone Mitz, a former fullback from Washington State and the son of former Seahawks defensive tackle Alonzo Mitz; and Maurice Shaw, a 6-10 graduate of Tacoma’s Lincoln High School who played for the Harlem Globetrotters and worked out with the tight ends. The kickers and punters will be tested on Sunday. The goal for all is to get invited to the NFL Super Regional Combine in Dallas on April 7-8, which hopefully will lead to being signed by an NFL team.
Like many of the participants in this Regional Combine, playing in the NFL has been Young’s dream for years, but his was put on hold for years after a series of missed opportunities and missteps.
Young was a can’t-miss prospect coming out of O’Dea, where he had been an all-state selection and Metro League defensive player of the year as senior in 2003. He also was the state 3A champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes in 2003, and runner-up in both sprints as a senior – to teammate Taylor Mays. Young was recruited by Washington, as well as Oregon, Notre Dame and UCLA. But he opted for Duke, for one year anyway.
“It was difficult. I made a tough decision to go to Duke,” said Young, a West Coast kid who had trouble adapting to life in the South. “It was a lot farther way. You’re thinking you can handle things on your own, but being that far away and on your own makes it kind of difficult.
“I was a little depressed for a while, and just trying to come out of that.”
Young transferred to Washington, but had to sit out the 2005 season. In the 2006 spring game, he caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from Isaiah Stanback and appeared poise to push his career back into the fast lane. Instead, he got into trouble academically and didn’t return to the UW until the 2008 season, only to break his leg right under the knee cap during the bye week.
“I should have sat out the rest of the year and tried to apply for a medical (redshirt year),” Young said. “But I was so hardheaded and stubborn, because I wanted to play so bad. I tried to force myself back and the body wasn’t fully ready.
“But I told myself mentally that I was and I could do it.”
Looking back at everything, Young offered, “I messed up. I was doing all the stuff that you’re not supposed to do. A hard head makes for a soft sit down.”
Since then, Young, 27, has dabbled in a little of this – working in sales, working with kids; a little of that – coaching at O’Dea and St. George Elementary School.
“I’ve done a little of everything,” he said. “And just training and working.”
Through it all, he just couldn’t shake those what-if feelings, especially when he’d watch NFL games on Sundays.
“One of the hardest things to do is be sitting there on Sundays and thinking, ‘Could I be out there? Could I do that?’ ” said Chancellor, who was wearing a Duke sweatshirt and Washington sweatpants. “Especially when you’re seeing some guys you played with and played against. You remember measuring up against them and wondering if you still could.”
So here he was – No. 50 among the defensive backs – on a Saturday morning in March trying to show that he deserves the chance he wants so badly.
“I want this more because of what I’ve been through,” Young said. “I walked in here today and it reinvigorated me, just the smell of the turf. It’s a good feeling. It gives your heart joy.”
Young wasn’t alone in his dream-chasing adventure. Leroy Lutu, a safety who went to the University of Hawaii, popped a 42-inch vertical leap. Jay-T Rysaac, a 33-year-old safety from Georgetown, Ky., ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds. Benson Mayowa, a defensive end from Idaho, had a 38-inch vertical and a time of 4.65 in the 40.
And that’s what these Regional Combines are all about: Doing something to get noticed. Regardless of what has happened in the past.
“Like I was taught, God never gives you more than you can handle and he gives the strongest trials to the strongest soldiers,” Young said. “So I feel like with all the stuff I went through there must be something in his cards for me. Whatever it may be.”