On an episode of The Sound earlier this offseason, Seahawks wideout Dareke Young stepped out of his comfort zone to give fans a look into 24 hours of his life. The Lenoir-Rhyne University alum was a seventh-round selection in Seattle's storied 2022 draft class, joining the growing group of current Division II players in the NFL. After earning reps on special teams and at wideout as a rookie, Young is looking to expand his role in Seattle's high-powered offense. With time winding down until the start of his second season, Young sat down to look back on his rise to the NFL and up Seattle's depth chart - as well as his future plans.
During his college days, Young was a do-it-all playmaker for Lenoir-Rhyne, lining up all over the line-of-scrimmage. But after combining for 24 career touchdowns as a running back and wideout, the surreal reality many rookies face became a reality—it's time to start from scratch. After showing glimpses of potential in preseason, Young was forced to carve a name for himself via special teams first before getting to showcase his offensive prowess.
After downing several punts deep in opposing territory and making key tackles on kickoff, Offensive Coordinator Shane Waldron began to implement Young into the offense as the season progressed. From lining up at fullback, to in the slot, to out wide, Young provided Seattle several looks as he got accustomed to the speed of the NFL game. On the stat sheet, Young's two receptions on the season each went for first downs. But what he's learned on the field, from teammates and off of it about himself can't be summarized by his production in limited action. Young summarizes his first year in the league with one word - growth.
"I played on special teams in college," said Young. "But being the No.1 receiver in college, that wasn't my main focus. But buying into my role during the year and I was actually good at special teams, I could have a long career just doing special teams alone. I felt like me buying into that showed a sign of growth, because I wasn't just focused on being a receiver, I was focused on being one of the best gunners in the league. If not the best."
But reflecting back to his college days when he also returned kicks in 2019 and 2021, Young struggled over whether he received more satisfaction from being a gunner or his days as a return man.
"That's a good question," said Young. "Because at gunner, once you start killing them, they'll send a double team your way. So that's always satisfaction, because you get the respect from the coaches on the other team. But definitely, whenever I can get the ball in my hands, it's a more exciting feeling."
And Seahawks Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal is helping Young do just that, as he learns the nuances of executing the offense from Seattle's prized wideout guru. In May, Waldron discussed the development of Young from year-one through the early portion of Seattle’s offseason.
"For Dareke going into year two," said Waldron. "Last year he was really able to carve out a role starting with special teams. And then finding his way on the field in different roles at receiver. Another guy that the more you can do, especially early on in your career, the more times you're able to make that active gameday roster. So, Dareke now is just keeping improving and getting better and better at receiver and the route-running. And some of the different things. Knowing coming out of college, the different style of offense he was in in his later years. So, he's just going to continue to grow and get better. He's smart, tough and reliable, so he'll keep finding a way to be on the field."
Young pointed out his efforts to observe wideouts DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, as well as soaking up Lal's tutelage in his development.
"Just watching film," said Young. "Just watching the guys who are in front of me, like DK and Tyler and just seeing how they get in-and-out of their breaks. All the nuances they do while they're running their route to get open. And just really buying into what Sanjay taught me all last year. I feel like my progression from the time I got here to the end of the season was a full 180. I felt like I was a different type of receiver by the end of the year. And that was all because of Tyler and DK and Sanjay."
The reserved Metcalf opts to let his play on-the-field and business savvy off the gridiron to do his talking for him, but the 25-year-old is more-than-willing to help his younger teammates along the way regardless of position. Young discussed his relationship with the fifth-year wideout and the things he's learned in year-one from the Ole Miss alum.
"I learned a lot from DK," said Young. "Whether it was just him telling me stuff, but I mainly learned a lot from him just watching his work ethic. All during the season last year, we both lifted together. So I always used to do what he did, whether it was extra work or getting extra reps in with whatever we were doing. Before I got here, I already had a good work ethic. But, just being with somebody and trying to get on his level, it was always good working out with him. If I ever had a question or anything, I'd shoot him a text and ask him, and he'd shoot it right back. So he's always been a good mentor. And Tyler, I always ask him how he reads defenses. Not only is he a good route-runner, but he knows how to get into the open spots, so Tyler always helps me with that. With those two guys, I feel like I was put in a great position being a rookie learning from two of the best receivers in the NFL."
Episode 3 of the second season of The Sound highlights Young learning to accept his new-found fame in the Pacific-Northwest as he explores downtown Seattle. Maybe, Young will continue to walk in Metcalf's footsteps as a Seahawk that leads by actions rather than words, opting to show up on the field and shy away from the cameras. Whether or not Young becomes comfortable enough to make his appearances on The Sound and represent the team at community events more frequently is yet to be determined. But Young's desire to become a better football player and human being is worth noting.