Avery Young listened to the Friday Night Lights soundtrack before snagging first Rutgers interception


Before UMass, the last play sophomore defensive back Avery Young ever made on a Friday night delivered a championship to Coatesville Area Senior High School. Under the lights of the 2017 District 1 Class 6A final on a late November night in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, Young broke a 28-point tie when he returned an interception 72 yards for the winning touchdown. 

Young was already committed to play for the Rutgers football team, and less than a year later, he found himself a key player in the Scarlet Knights' secondary, starting as a true freshman.

Young broke up 10 passes last year, but couldn't come down with one in his hands throughout his first season on the Banks. His sophomore season is already a different story. On Friday night's home opener, Young stepped in front of the Minutemen's Zak Simon on a curl route pass by teammate Randall West, snagging career interception number one. 

The lights of SHI Stadium on a Friday night in late August set the stage for Young to pick up where he left off as a ballhawking corner that racked up nine career interceptions in Coatesville. 

"I feel like I should have had two today," Young said, referring to an interception he recorded in the first quarter that was called back due to penalty. "They called a (pass interference) on my first interception and I had some misreads but that's okay because we're gonna come back and clean up in practice. That's how it's supposed to be in the first week of the season, you see it all over the nation."

Film study and game preparation in practice is essential for a secondary unit that aspires to create a lot of takeaways this season. But for Young, while watching film is a big precedent for game action, so too is listening to music. 

Young has an extensive pre-game playlist headlined by the likes of J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper.

"The night before the game I listened to 'Blessings' by Chance the Rapper, it's spiritual, the calm before the storm," Young said. "Then you kinda pick it up when you get into the locker room, I put on some 'Revenge of the Dreamers,' some stuff that J. Cole and his label put out, some Kendrick Lamar and some Logic, you know I just have a bunch of people on my playlist." 

One album on his playlist stands above the rest, and one very appropriate for the scheduling of Rutgers' home opener. A far cry from the hip-hop and R&B that inflates the bulk of his pre-game sounds, the most important tune that preceded Young's career night was an old American ambience with a marriage to the game of football. 

"My favorite thing on my playlist would probably have the be the Friday Night Lights soundtrack," Young said, referring to the 2004 feature film staring Billy Bob Thornton. 

The album's headline theme, "Home & Your Hand in Mine" by Explosions in the Sky, is an atmospheric background melody. The subtle yet frequent pulls of electric guitar strings contrasts with the ominous and slowly-paced base to create a sound closer to that of deep southern country music than modern hip-hop. But they are sounds that, Young said, universally coincide with the game of football and the emotions that come with playing under the lights. 

"It's amazing," he said. "It's something that keeps you calm and you feel the pain that they felt in the movie because Friday night lights are a real thing. Friday night lights are a magical experience and I just thought back to my career in high school and all the pain I went through and all the happiness. It brings you to tears, almost."


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