A late addition to the program, University of Oregon transfer Malik Young came to Fort Hays State looking to soak up as much knowledge about the Tigers' system as quickly as possible.
With just one season at FHSU, Young's success was contingent on how quickly he could get up to speed with the Tigers after arriving just a couple weeks before the start of the season.
The Marietta, Ga., product took another big step forward in his acclimation process in FHSU's 50-21 win over Pittsburg State last Saturday, with the defensive tackle notching 11 tackles and forcing a key safety.
"You get to a new program, calls are different, techniques are different. It just takes a kid time to kind of figure those things out," FHSU coach Chris Brown said. "Right now, he's really starting to figure out how to play D-line the way we want him to. It shows just the way he plays."
Young's tackle for the safety helped continue Fort Hays State's red-hot start against Pitt State, giving the Tigers a 9-0 lead on Pitt's first play after the Tigers scored on their opening play.
"That safety was huge for us," Brown said. "He made a lot of other nice plays for us as well on their run plays. I'm glad we got that kid on our team. He's a hard-working kid, he's a great kid, he's smart and he cares. He truly, truly cares about the game of football, and he cares about his teammates.
"He's only been here about 10 weeks now, but he loves our guys, he plays hard for them and he's going to do everything he can to win."
Young played in seven games for the Ducks last year and was looking to finish out his career at Oregon but the NCAA denied his petition for an extra year of Division I eligibility. He went to West Georgia Tech out of high school, but the school cancelled its football program before his freshman season. He later enrolled at Eastern Arizona, where he played two seasons and was an NCJAA All-America first-team performer in 2016 before heading to Oregon.
Though Young had exhausted his Division I eligibility, he still had the option to complete his career at a Division II program. He said he found a good fit in Fort Hays State.
"How the team was communicating and the chemistry together," Young said of what appealed to him about FHSU. "And especially (defensive line) coach Ike (Eguae), how much knowledge he knows about the D-line. That's another thing that brought me here."
Young, who is listed 6-foot-2, 300 pounds, said it took him awhile to get adjusted to Fort Hays' defensive system.
"The biggest challenge for me was that Oregon's a different type of defense, it's read and react," Young said. "This one is just straight and go. It's more like stepping with up my foot and shooting my hands instead of waiting on the lineman to move. That was the only really hard challenge, and getting down the plays, which the team and coaches have been really good about helping me out.
"I'm still learning every day. I carry around this notebook with all the plays in it."
While it might not be the Pac-12, Young said he finds the MIAA challenging.
"I'm finding very good competition level," he said. "Last week against Pitt, I went against an NFL prospect dude. You're going against very good people."
Young said he thought the Pitt State game marked his best outing of the season.
"I feel like I'm improving every week," he said.
Young and the defense will look to continue their upward trend as the 5-2 Tigers face Nebraska-Kearney (4-3) at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Kearney.
"We definitely get better every week," Young said. "We have a lot of mental errors, but every week we correct our mental errors and try to get better at that and fix the small things."