Charle Young, an Edison High School graduate who went on to compete for the University of California and four NFL teams, played tight end as if he had invented the position. He is among those athletes who attained a degree of excellence that vaulted him into a select class, an athlete who deserves to be considered an all-time All-American. Young was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004. What made his selection exceptional was that he was only the ninth tight end to be selected among 900-plus players and coaches honored before him.
He is a legend at Edison High where he was an all star in every sport that he played for the Tigers. He was a fearsome competitor in basketball and baseball, but on the football field, his presence had opponents shaking in their cleats. He not only had size and strength, but speed and great moves as he led the Tigers to multiple championships. After graduating from Edison, numerous colleges from coast to coast pursued him, but Young chose USC.
He was a standout on three USC teams including the memorable 1972 National Champions where Young caught sixty-two passes for 1,008 yards and ten touchdowns. In his senior year, he snagged twenty-nine passes for 470 yards and three touchdowns. An imposing physical specimen, standing 6'4" and weighing 235 pounds, he was blessed with great hands and exceptional athleticism as well as being a fierce blocker and an outstanding route runner.
Young's individual statistics were extraordinary in light of the fact that USC has always been a running team, traditionally favoring a multitude of end sweeps. For the Trojans to have thrown the ball that often to a tight end for so many yards was an exceptional tribute. Young was an All-Pac 10 Conference and All-American selection plus Lineman of the Year for the Rose Bowl Champion Trojans. He also played in the Hula Bowl.
Young's 1972 season teammates included running back Sam "Bam" Cunningham and wide receiver Lynn Swann. Remarkably, thirty-three members of the 1972 Trojan team were eventually drafted by NFL teams. A 42-17 winner over powerhouse Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, the 1972 Trojan opponent-grinder is considered one of the best collegiate football teams of the 20th century. Young was picked sixth by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1973 draft and was with them for four years. In his first pro season, he was the NFL's leading receive, earning him Rookie of the Year honors. He extended his pro career to thirteen years by performing with the L.A. Rams from 1977 to 1979, the San Francisco 49ers from 1980 to 1982, and the Seattle Seahawks from 1983 to 1985.
Selected to play in the Pro Bowl in 1973, 1974, and 1975, Young also played in two Super Bowl games: XIV in 1980 when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Rams, 31-19 and XVI in 1982 when the 49ers edged the Cincinnati Bengals, 26-21 Young's best pro season was his first, catching fifty-five passes for 854 yards and six touchdowns, one of them for eighty yards. He captured the most passes of his career at sixty-three during his second season, but those 854 yards as a rookie were his highest single-season total. During his thirteen campaigns as a pro, Young wound up with 418 receptions for 4,836 yards and twenty-seven touchdowns. With his career winding down, Young was signed by the Seahawks. They wanted him to teach the players "how to win." And he did.