Every year, we witness a small-school prospect light up an annual all-star event by putting forth a performance that forces NFL talent evaluators to revisit their collegiate tape while handing them an improved draft grade. Lenoir-Rhyne's Dareke Young is that player in 2022. The talented receiver was a big winner at East-West Shrine Bowl's weigh-in process, clocking in at 6-foot-2 and a rocked-up 223 pounds with a wingspan shockingly north of 79 inches. When it came time to hit the field, Young’s combination of size and speed was difficult for opposing defensive backs to deal with. Young recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his experience at the East-West Shrine Game, addressing the small school concerns, his favorite route to run, why he believes his draft stock has considerably improved in recent weeks, and so much more. JM: You had an excellent week at the East-West Shrine Bowl. You strung together several impressive practices. The Draft Network was in attendance and we came away very impressed with you. What was the overall experience like? DY: It was a great experience. I knew that there would be a bigger focus and microscope on me since I entered the process as a D-II guy. I was one of the very few D-II players in attendance and it gave me an opportunity to showcase my talents against D-I players. It was such a fun experience for me to measure my talent against the other prospects throughout the week. From a talent perspective, I felt like I was on the same level as the D-I guys. That’s just my honest evaluation. I knew I was going to have a successful week because I know what I’m capable of. I know how much hard work went into the process. I put everybody on notice. It was a good week for me. I built a lot of relationships with the coaches and scouts in attendance. It was a successful week for me. JM: You were also one of the big winners at the weigh-in process, clocking in at 6-foot-2 and 223 pounds with a wingspan greater than 79 inches. Did you hear any positive feedback from teams regarding your measurements? DY: I heard a ton of positive feedback from teams regarding my measurements. Everybody was thrilled with the results. A lot of teams began asking me about what sort of testing numbers I’m going to put up at my Pro Day. Teams were pretty blown away by the numbers (laughs). I’m very confident in the numbers I believe I’m going to post up. Stay tuned for the Pro Day. Being the size that I am, a lot of people don’t expect me to move as fast as I can. I was moving really fast throughout those practices at the East-West Shrine Bowl. I’m going to continue showcasing my speed and overall movement abilities throughout this process. JM: We can’t wait for your Pro Day. You briefly touched on this but I want to go a bit more in-depth. The Shrine Bowl gave you an opportunity to compete against defensive backs from some of the biggest Division I programs in the nation. What do you think that did for your draft stock? DY: I feel like I definitely boosted my draft stock out there. I understand how to use my size and speed to my advantage. It was on full display. I don’t feel like I was hindered by the chance to compete against D-I cornerbacks. Not at all. If anything, I proved that I belong at that level. I was out there running crisp routes and making big plays in the passing game. I made the most of every rep and ball that came my way. JM: You certainly did. You will be labeled a “small-school prospect” throughout this process. It’s inevitable and happens to multiple prospects every year. We saw it with your teammate Kyle Dugger. How do you typically respond to that label? DY: It just makes me carry a chip on my shoulder. It’ll be that way for the rest of my career. I don’t look at it as disrespectful or anything like that. I come from a small school. It is what it is. I don’t think people are questioning my overall talent and ability to play at the next level. I just happened to play five years at Lenoir-Rhyne. It gives me a chip on my shoulder. I feel like I was more than capable of playing at a bigger school. I just didn’t get that opportunity. JM: You’ve proven that every step of the way. Do you feel like Dugger helped put Lenoir-Rhyne on the map? Have you noticed an uptick in the attention you’ve received since Dugger exploded onto the scene? DY: I definitely feel like Dugger put Lenoir-Rhyne on the map. He was a second-round draft pick from a D-II school. That’s a huge accomplishment. He definitely motivated me to reach his level. I want to reach those same heights. He’s off to an extremely successful career with the New England Patriots. When the scouts came to our program to see him, they saw me as well. I’ve been told that I passed the eye test on those initial visits. After Dugger left the program, we definitely noticed that the scouts kept returning to Lenoir-Rhyne. That’s exactly what happened. We’re on the map now. I definitely have to thank him for what he did for the program. He brought us a lot of attention. It’s helped us so much in the long run. JM: It helped all parties involved. You’ve talked a lot about your size and speed as a receiver. It jumps off the screen. Do you have a favorite route to run? DY: I love running a post route. I ran quite a few posts during one-v-one drills at the East-West Shrine Bowl and I won those routes and reps. I would definitely single out the post route. I’m built for that. JM: You also have some experience playing special teams. You’ve returned kicks and punts. What do you enjoy about playing special teams? DY: It’s another role you have to play. A lot of guys don’t love playing special teams, but I’ve never felt that way. I’m a guy that’s going to do whatever it takes to win. I recall my freshman year in college, I wasn’t playing much on the offensive side of the ball yet. I was pretty much exclusively a special teams guy at that point. I was introduced to how important special teams were throughout that season. I’ve played on every special teams unit throughout the past five years. I like playing special teams. I was on every special teams unit at the East-West Shrine Bowl as well and I was the punt returner for the actual game. If my NFL team needs me to play special teams, I’ll put my best foot forward and I can lean on my experience. JM: I’ve really appreciated your time today. Why should a team use one of their draft picks on Dareke Young? DY: I’m going to make the most of my opportunity. I’m going to take care of the rest. I’m a humble, hard-working guy first and foremost. I’ve always been a self-motivator. I’ve never needed anybody to push me to work hard. I’m always going to give it 111% to help the team win. I try to go above and beyond. If that means playing special teams, being the second or third receiver on the team, or even our go-to receiver, I’m prepared for any and all situations because I’ve played through all of those experiences. If a team decides to put their faith in me, I’m going to repay that faith.
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