The Utah State student section readied for a verbal sparring match with extensive research and aimed the most vitriol at Trace Young.
The Hurd, as the notoriously raucous student section is known, did have taunts prepared for Colorado State men’s basketball stars David Roddy and Isaiah Stevens.
Yet the lead note on the “Bull Sheet” handed out to students was about Young, a walk-on who rarely sees the floor for the Rams.
Something about a bench player having hundreds of thousands of social media followers caught their eye.
“Where do we start with this guy?” Read the Bull Sheet. “Trace is something different, it is almost as if he is desperate for attention.”
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They shared the handles for his social media accounts and encouraged students to send him not-so-nice messages. Young says he received hundreds of them around the game where CSU beat Utah State in Logan.
But he laughs about it now. It’s all part of the game of being a social media influencer.
“It’s just extra views on my stuff, man. If it’s hate or not, it’s more views helping the algorithm!” Young said with a chuckle. “They’re just helping me out.”
The algorithms are clicking for Young, a 6-foot-3 guard from Austin, Texas. He’s the prime example of one of the more unique movements afoot in college sports, where name, image and likeness rules now allow players to make money off their marketability.
The casual fan might assume the star players are the ones getting all the money, and, no doubt, superstars can earn some cash. But Young is one of the most marketable athletes at CSU despite playing all of 4 minutes last season.
“The two ways people are getting noticed are if you’re A) really good at your sport and play a lot and are doing amazing things on the court,” Young said. “Or you just have a good presence on social media and other platforms.”
He has a presence. Young is followed by more than 133,000 people on TikTok, the short-form video social network. He has nearly 12,000 Instagram followers.
Young has had TikTok posts go viral, with many seen by several million people.
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So what exactly does he do that’s so popular? Different age groups probably feel differently. It’s mostly young users who blow up his TikTok, and some older folks, like his coach, Niko Medved, admit the trends elude them.
“I just chuckle,” Medved said, but he appreciates the fun the team has had making videos with Young in their downtime.
A recent trend was the napkin ask video. Someone eating asks for a napkin and another person goes over and rips the shirt right off the back of someone else and hands it off as a napkin. No real point, just amusing. The team recently did that one to the tune of 2.8 million views and counting on TikTok and countless other platforms it was shared across.
The “magic shoes” trend uses the “Mama said they would take me anywhere” line from Forrest Gump. You post a a sequence of photos showing a series of places you’ve been or achievements you’ve made. A quick 35K views right there.
The “never let them know your next move” trend. This where users show themselves taking nonsensical or unpredictable actions that create chaos for others. This is another one the team put together to the tune of 162,000 TikTok views.
You get the point. Some will surely hate it, and many won’t understand. Even though Medved doesn’t understand all the trends or why they’re so popular, he understands how people gravitate toward Young.
“He’s an incredible human being. He’s one of the nicest, friendliest people you’ll ever be around. There’s nobody who’s ever met Trace Young that doesn’t like him. If you don’t like Trace Young, something’s wrong with you,” Medved said. “If you were to have a definition of positive energy, he would be the poster child.”
Showcasing that positivity and energy through videos is his passion. He saved up money mowing lawns as a kid to buy an iPod Touch and started making videos. He’s slowly progressed to high-level cameras and shoots professional-level photos and videos, including producing hype videos for his teammates.
His girlfriend is a full-time influencer, and they work with each other on ideas and videos. He may pursue it full-time after college or just have it be a side part of his life.
“It’s cool knowing that I created something that people like seeing and makes them laugh,” Young said.
How to follow Trace Young
Tik Tok: @mamasboytrace
Young gives an inside tour of Costa Rica trip: Trace Young and the CSU men’s basketball team are in Costa Rica for a week on a preseason trip. Young will share an inside look at the trip via the Coloradoan’s social media channels. Follow us @Coloradoan on Instagram.
This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Trace Young of CSU basketball is viral sensation on TikTok