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Cal Football

Bear Insider Video: Cal WR Monroe Young Ready for 6th Year

March 12, 2023

One of the feel-good stories from a 2022 season that was disappointing in so many regards was the emergence of redshirt senior receiver Monroe Young, who put together his best career season in year five at Cal.

Now the Bears have a chance to put the disappointment of unmet expectations and forge a new path, starting with spring ball this week.

“It feels good, man,” Young said. “I mean, we've been waiting for this moment, for the whole offseason and it feels good to finally get out there with the guys and kind of put together this new playbook and kind of learn from the new coaches that are coming in there. I feel like there's a new energy within the Cal offense.

In his four previous seasons at Cal, Young battled injuries and was only able to compile six catches for 72 yards and no TDs before his breakout season in 2022 where he added 23 catches for 231 yards (10 ypc) and three touchdowns his redshirt junior season.

Was it a relief for the veteran receiver to finally contribute on a higher level?

“Yeah, for sure,” Young said. “I mean, it was just me trusting the process, putting my head down and grinding every single day, waiting for my number to be called and last season, I feel like I got a lot more momentum towards the end of the season because I was kind of coming off of injuries in my early years and stuff like that. So it was finally good to be healthy this season and I look forward to kind of bringing it into this season.”

And to finally hit paydirt with his first TD was maybe the biggest thrill of all for the Las Cruces, New Mexico native, with a breakout game of 5 receptions for 66 yards, a TD and 2-point conversion reception in the Bears’ hard-fought 41-35 loss at USC. If that breakout game was a surprise to fans, it wasn’t for Young’s father Fredd, a 4-time Pro Bowler in his NFL career.

“It was amazing, man.” Young said of his first time seeing the end zone in a collegiate game. “It was really cool for me. It was a good experience because that's something that you dream of as a little kid. And what's interesting about that is my dad actually texted me before the game and he called it out that I was gonna score that game. So nice. He played with the Seahawks and the Colts for about eight or nine years.”

Now the Bears start a new era, moving away from a rapidly more outdated west coast offense to a tempo-based spread that has seen prolific offensive results under new OC jake Spavital.

“Yeah, It's super exciting,” Young said. “It's a receiver-friendly offense. As soon as Spav got hired, man, we all got together and kind of watched film of his previous Cal offense and it was one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. So that was really exciting. But obviously, we’ve still got a long way to go and we're excited to put the work in to get the results we want this season.”

Earlier this week in his interview on the Bear Insider Ultimate Insider Podcast, Spavital talked about how his offense is designed to get players in space, even if it means breaking off the route if they’re cover - a prospect that gets receivers’ heartbeats racing.

“Yeah, exactly,” Young said. I mean there's a lot more opportunity for us. We're kind of getting reads off of the defense and changing our angles or our routes based on the defense. So it's a lot more opportunity for us receivers to get the ball in our hands and make a play.

Going from a traditional dropbox passer like last year’s starter Jack Plummer to a speedy, elusive QB like new starter Sam Jackson often throwing on the run can be a challenge getting timing down so the QBs and receiving corps have put in the hours in the offseason working on building the rapport they’ll need to be successful this season.

“Yeah, it's super important having that chemistry with the quarterback,” noted Young. “As soon as Sam and Fernando got here in the offseason, they texted the group chat like I was saying earlier, and we were getting routes in on the first day, two or three times a week. Just putting in work with them and getting that timing down, especially being in this kind of offense where you're changing routes on every single play, we felt like we had to get that timing down. So it's important to have that chemistry down.”

Not only is Young coming back for a sixth season but he’s already two years removed from earning a bachelor’s degree in legal studies and is currently pursuing a master's degree in Cal's Graduate School of Education, an impressive feat for any collegiate athlete, let alone at a demanding university like Cal.

Young was asked how it’s different catching a ball from a quarterback who's known for throwing on the move.

“It's a lot more explosive because he could extend plays,” noted Young. “So you're always looking to, if you don't get the ball, you could get the ball four seconds down the play. And so you're just always looking to get open no matter how long the play lasts. Sam obviously is a dynamic runner, too. It puts a lot more pressure on the defense, being able to extend plays like that. So I'm looking forward to that opportunity.”

By all reports, redshirt frosh Fernando Mendoza continues to make strides as he’s moved into the primary backup role heading into his second year in the program.

“Fernando? He's come a long way, man,” Young said. “As soon as he stepped foot on campus, he was a hard worker. He's a grinder. He's somebody that you want on your team. And he can sling the ball, too. We all love Nando here.”

As for this season, Young and his teammates are ready to turn the page and start piling up some W’s. The goal?

“To win more games,” Young said. “That's the main goal. Obviously, we didn't have the season we wanted to last season but we're willing to put the work in to grow from last season and get more wins on the board.”

They can’t come soon enough for victory-starved Cal football fans.


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