Chase Clemens
ASU Student Journalist

Chandler’s Jeremiah Young finds motivation from his late father

October 16, 2023 by Chase Clemens, Arizona State University

Chandler defensive lineman Jeremiah Young celebrates after making a tackle against Highland on Sept. 22. Young had seven tackles in Chandler's 24-22 victory. (Shannon Liebrock photo/Liebrock Photography)

Chase Clemens is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Chandler High School for

Jeremiah Young has a compelling pregame routine. 

The Chandler senior defensive end applies athletic tape to both his wrists. He finds a sharpie and writes, “LLP,”  for Long Live Paris, on his left wrist tape. Underneath, he inscribes, “02/16/13.”

He thinks about his father, Paris Young Jr., who passed away on Feb. 16, 2013, one week after Jeremiah’s seventh birthday.

Young continues his preparation by focusing on the R&B music playing from his headphones. But the artist isn’t Drake or Kendrick Lamar. It’s his father, who wrote and recorded music as a young man in Chicago and Minnesota.

“I listen to his music before my games,” Young said. “It fires me up and keeps me motivated and it just helps me get into my zone. All I think about when I'm on the field is my pops.”

Young feels connected to his father through his dad’s music and his own play on the field. Football was an important part of the time they spent together. He inherited his love for the game from his dad. The two played catch together at their local park outside Chicago, where the Young family resided. After Paris Young Jr.’s passing, the game meant even more. 

“His dad was the first one to put a football in his hands,” Jeremiah’s  mother, Ladonna Young, said. “Football really is Jeremiah’s passion and has helped him cope with not having him here.”

Jeremiah Young celebrates Christmas with his father Paris Young Jr. (Photo courtesy of the Young family)During the season, Young’s life revolves around the team. He returns home around 7 p.m. after practice Monday through Thursday. Friday is game day, where the team spends the afternoon preparing together leading up to kickoff at 7 p.m. Young returns to the Chandler football facility the next morning at 8 a.m. to work out and watch game film with the team. He heads home around 2 p.m. to finally catch up with family, followed by more film study. On Sundays, Young hangs out with his teammates, mostly from his position group and the defense. 

The job-like nature of playing for an elite high school football program is a grind for most athletes. For Young, it’s his passion because of his motivation to honor his father’s legacy. 

“I used to always walk in his room when he was watching the Chicago Bears or Minnesota Vikings,” Young says. “When he was watching the games I would think, man, I just want to be on TV so he could watch me and be happy seeing his son make plays out there.”

One of Young’s biggest plays this season didn’t register on the stat sheet, but helped preserve Chandler’s then-undefeated record. In Week 5, Chandler narrowly led Highland 17-15 with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Hawks had possession on  their own 37-yard line with an opportunity to upset the top-ranked Wolves with one score.

On fourth down, Young beat his blocker and rushed Highland junior quarterback Kalen Fisher to force an incompletion and turnover-on-downs to seal the victory.

“He's just the leader of the defense,” Chandler defensive coordinator Ryan Desrochers said. ““Whenever we've needed a big play this year, he's been the guy to do it.”

Young leads Chandler in sacks (4.5), tackles for loss (9), and solo tackles (17). He’s accomplished this despite being matched up against the other team’s best offensive tackles. Opposing offensive coordinators focus their game plan around Young and often assign two linemen to block him.

This was the case during Chandler’s 42-0 win over Corona del Sol in Week 4. The attention on Young allowed other Chandler defensive lineman to pressure Corona senior quarterback Connor Ackerley all game. Chandler senior defensive end Noah McElveen had 2.5 tackles for loss.

Chandler defensive lineman Jeremiah Young (44) rushes past a blocker in a 42-0 victory over Corona del Sol on Sept. 15. Corona leads the 6A Division in passing but was held to 161 yards in the game. (Shannon Liebrock photo/Liebrock Photography)“We have guys that are stronger and faster than him,” Desrochers said. “But from a technical standpoint, he has that edge because every day he's working on something to get better.”

Young stays after practice to run and improve his edge-rushing technique, including footwork and hand placement. His maniacal work ethic helped him cut down from 272 pounds as a freshman in 2020 to 211 pounds this season.

“I remember I was so heavy,” Young said. “I was grinding my way through the whole offseason before my junior year. Seeing everybody that was ahead of me, I just wanted to be like them, but even better. So, during the offseason, I just did way more than what everybody else would do.”

Young applies the same dedication in the film room. He studies tape long into the night and texts coaches his thoughts on an upcoming opponent as late as 2 a.m. and as early as 5 a.m. Hours before games, Young breaks down film with his younger teammates and helps them understand their opponent’s tendencies. 

Players follow his lead. It’s why the Chandler coaching staff named Young one of its team captains prior to Week 1. A couple weeks later, he proved them right during one early season practice. The team was unfocused and not executing plays. Young pushed the coaches aside and took charge, pleading with his teammates to get it together. 

“He's our emotional leader right now on the defense,” defensive backs coach Mike Underwood said. “He's a guy that's gonna get everybody going and bark at them when things aren't going right. He does a great job of encompassing that emotion.”

Jeremiah with his father Paris. (Photo courtesy of the Young family)Coaches praise Young’s rare level of commitment to his craft. It’s special, even for the winningest high school program in Arizona over the last decade. And it helped him become one of the top defensive linemen in the state. Despite his impressive stats and highlights, Young has flown under the radar of college recruiters.

“If there's any college coaches out there looking, you're gonna get a tremendous young man,” Desrochers said. “You won't be disappointed. If you get an opportunity or you're not sure, be sure about him. He's going to work to make you right.”

Young’s play has put him on the map for some college coaches. He has two scholarship offers from Western New Mexico University and Fort Lewis College and has received interest from Northern Arizona University. 

For Young, none of it would be possible without the inspiration, and music, from his father.

“I know he's watching from above,” Young says, “I know that he knows I’m using his music as motivation. When I'm able to make a play, I'll always thank him and thank God, because I feel like I wouldn't be able to do it without him. Without that motivation.”

Young’s impact in the locker room and on the field has led Chandler to a 6-1 record, the No. 3 ranking in Arizona, and No. 34 ranking nationally. More importantly, Paris Young Jr. would be proud of his son.