Josh Kendall

Malik Young brings ‘energy’ and ‘effort’ to Gamecocks front

South Carolina offensive lineman Malik Young (77) blocks Texas A&M Aggies defensive back Justin Evans (14) last weekend.
South Carolina offensive lineman Malik Young (77) blocks Texas A&M Aggies defensive back Justin Evans (14) last weekend. gmelendez@thestate.com

Malik Young became the seventh player to start on South Carolina’s offensive line this season when he opened the Texas A&M game at right tackle. Thus far, he’s manged to stay there.

The Gamecocks offensive line has been in flux all season because of injury and inconsistency. In six games, South Carolina has started four different offensive line combinations. Young, a 6-foot-3, 300-pound sophomore from Pelzer, stepped into the spot held by D.J. Park against the Aggies and again got the call against Georgia.

“It meant a lot to me because I have been working hard all summer and all camp and it meant a lot to me to get my first start,” Young said. “I just wanted to play, just like anybody else does. Anybody would want to start. I just worked hard and finally got my opportunity.”

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp could tell getting into the lineup was big for Young.

“It’s important to him to play for South Carolina and I am excited about him,” Muschamp said.

Young took the spot from D.J. Park, and Blake Camper had also played there before getting sidelined with a high ankle sprain.

Young signed with the Gamecocks out of Woodmont High School, where he was a three-star prospect. He redshirted in 2014 and played sparingly last season after suffering an ankle injury.

“After having a couple of setbacks, I finally got my opportunity and it was important to me,” Young said.

That was clear when he went chest to chest several times with Aggie defenders after the play.

“That’s just kind of the way I play,” Young said. “I will let the defense know I am going to be there all night. I am not going to go away. That’s the type of player I am.”

Muschamp enjoys Young’s passion “as long as he doesn’t get a penalty,” the coach said.

“Malik plays with great energy and great effort,” Muschamp said. “There are some things we need to clean up technically, but I am extremely proud of him and how he played in his first start. I am excited about what he brings to the table as far as he plays with a lot of passion.”

Young, who also could play guard or center, wants to improve on his “mental focus, patience, pass sets and footwork,” this season, he said.

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