Photo/James Pugh

Not every dream becomes a reality. Byron Young understands that sobering truth. He also knows that sometimes those dreams do become reality.

When the West Jones senior defensive end received his 2019 All-American Bowl jersey during a presentation inside Mustang Gymnasium among family, friends, coaches, high school classmates and teammates, one such dream came true.

“It was always a dream,” said Young. “But I didn’t know if it would ever come to fruition.”

As the nation’s 10th best at his position (SDE) and 127th best player overall in the 2019 recruiting class, Young has been selected to play in the 2019 All-American Bowl set for Saturday, Jan. 5 at noon in San Antonio, Texas. The All-American Bowl is a high school football all-star game of sorts, featuring the nation’s best senior athletes.

“Seeing everything I’ve done hasn’t been in vain is a great feeling,” added Young. 

The Alabama commit learned of his selection to play in the prestigious game while hanging out with some friends in Downtown Laurel weeks ago. 

“I got a text message from Barton Simmons from,” Young said. “He told me that I had been selected to play in the game and I stopped everything. I got so excited when he told me.”

Laurel OT and Florida State commit Charles Cross has also been selected to play in the Jan. 5th all-star game. 

Young anchors the defensive line for West Jones. In 2017 – as a junior – Young had 28 solo tackles, and of those takedowns, 22 were for losses. He also recorded 14 sacks for a total of 59 yards lost for opposing offenses. 

This year – as a senior and only eight games into the season – Young has recorded 42 solo tackles and 18.5 TFL. He has also recorded in 9.5 sacks. 

Led by Young and a few other talented defensive linemen including Jon-Micah Coleman and Damion Cunningham, West Jones has the best defense in Region 3-5A and one of the best in the state. Opponents have scored just 53 points all year on the Mustangs, averaging slightly above six points a game.

“I’m a Mustang, when I leave here I’ll be a Mustang, and when I die I’ll be a Mustang,” said Young to a cheering crowd inside Mustang Gymnasium before Friday’s prep-rally. “I’m always a Mustang.”

West Jones plays host to Region 3-5A and county rival South Jones in Soso Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.