Kelsey Young sat across from Stanford coach David Shaw prior to spring practice to answer one simple, important question. Would he like to play running back again?
"That's one of the best questions I ever heard," Young said Tuesday. "I was a running back growing up and was recruited as a running back. I've always felt more natural at the position."
After three years as a wide receiver, it was as though Young was going home. To show his appreciation, Young went out and learned how to pass block. It's led to a starting spot as the 11th-ranked Cardinal prepares for its season opener Saturday against visiting UC Davis at 1 p.m.
"He's been the most consistent since last spring," Shaw said. "But there are a lot of guys right behind him."
Barry Sanders, who started getting increased playing time toward the end of last year, being first and foremost. Seniors Ricky Seale and Remound Wright are also in the equation along with freshman Chris McCaffrey, the son of former Stanford great and NFL star Ed McCaffrey.
"There's no question he (McCaffrey) will make an appearance," Shaw said. "He's had a great camp. That's five running backs. We'll see what guys do well and use those differences as the game plan shifts."
Young, who was named to the Doak Walker Award watch list after rushing for just 110 yards on 14 carries and one TD last season, said he has more immediate goals.
"I have to worry about doing my job as a running back," he said. "That can change at any moment and that keeps me motivated. My job can be taken away because there are other guys who are good."
Young rushed for 3,775 yards over his final two years at Norco High while playing for Todd Gerhart, better known as Toby's father. He's spoken with Toby Gerhart about what it takes to be a success at Stanford.
"He told me to be accountable for myself and know my job well," Young said. "Pass blocking was my biggest adjustment."
Young said he's also learned a lot from Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan. They were fast friends as freshmen and arranged to be roommates for anything football related.
"He's calm and doesn't let anything faze him," Young said. "He's helped me stayed poised."
Hogan said there's no problem getting ready for the Aggies, who upset Stanford in 2005.
"It's our first game and we want to come out strong," Hogan said. "At the end of the day, they are college football players and anything can happen."