THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – New Rams LB Kenny Young is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, though he could almost count Los Angeles as a second home.
A trade from the Ravens to Rams on Tuesday brought him to a new team, but one with many recognizable faces and sights.
"Back home, UCLA's right down the street, so it really feels like I'm in my backyard," Young told Rams team reporter Sarina Morales after practice Wednesday.
Indeed, Young's former college campus is less than an hour from the Rams' training facility. It turns out the proximity played a role in his eventual path to the Rams, too.
Young got on Los Angeles' radar during his Bruins career, which was highlighted by two highly seasons as an upperclassman. He posted 90 tackles, five sacks, three pass breakups and three fumble recoveries en route to All-Pac 12 second team honors as a junior, then followed it up with a team-high 110 tackles, one sack and three pass breakups in a first-team all-conference senior season.
"We knew he was a really talented athlete," Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "He can run, he can change direction and has speed. He has some real good assets (for a defense)."
Ultimately, he ended up getting chosen No. 122 overall by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, posting 64 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, one pass breakup and two forced fumbles across 21 career games in Baltimore.
The Rams never lost sight of him, though.
"We had some affinity for what he could do in college because he was right down the road," Rams GM Les Snead said. "I knew he had started a good bit of games, so we call it ‘blue man.’ I can punch blue man and filter out his plays and I got (Director, Pro Scouting) Ray Agnew, ‘Hey, run down and see if (Special Teams Coordinator) Coach (John) Fassel would appreciate him.’ Again, because of the (LB) Bryce Hager injury a couple of weeks ago, we had been talking about, ‘What if he can’t go, do we need to get a linebacker?’ It was nice timing on Kenny as well."
During his rookie season in Baltimore, he teamed up with veteran safety Eric Weddle, who signed with the Rams earlier this offseason. Young views Weddle as a role model.
"He was the guy on the defense," Young said about his interactions with Weddle last season. "He's always the guy, man. He's an intelligent guy, and he knows the game very, very well from all aspects. I strive to be in that position one day very, very early. With him being here, it's cool."
So far, he's acclimating to his new linebacker room well. Rams ILB Cory Littleton said Young is doing everything he can to be ready whenever his number is called.
"He's a smart dude," LB Cory Littleton said. "Willing to pick anything up. He's really loving the system that's here in place, and he said he's picking it up pretty well. A guy that's just devoting himself to everything that we've already got going on, just to make sure he'll be ready for us 100 percent whenever that will be, is always a great guy in my book."
While Young's role is still to be determined – understandable, as he has completed two practices and a walkthrough as of Thursday evening – he already has a strong understanding of what's expected of him within his own position group.
"I think it's just simple – come in and be an enforcer, run sideline to sideline, make plays, communicate, have fun and win, cause turnovers," Young said. "It's the right fit for me and I'm excited."