Brian Young entered UTEP as a hometown hero in 1995, having starred at El Paso's Andress High School. But as a freshman, he spent little time in the weight room -- and even less the classroom. Before he even finished his second semester, Young lost his scholarship, and his parents, who had been supporting him, cut him off.
Determined to resurrect his career, he enrolled in community college in the summer of 1996. The next semester he was back with the Miners, paying his own way. He rejoined the football team, and Young, once a poster boy for how a can't-miss college prospect could misfire, worked his way back into the starting lineup.
Now a senior with two solid seasons at UTEP behind him, Young is the most feared defensive player in the league. No team blocks him one-on-one, and at 6'4" and 274 pounds, he is an offensive coordinator's nightmare. He's quick and agile, and can just as easily sidestep offensive tackles as he can push them out of the way.
The Miners are touting him for every major national defensive award, but for Young, the satisfaction of knowing he made it back to the field he left in ignominy four years ago may be reward enough.