CHARLOTTE — Last night, Bryce Young was picked first in the NFL Draft.
When he took his first steps into Bank of America Stadium on Friday, there was a crowd there to greet him, around 1,000 fans in the middle of a work day for a pep rally to welcome him.
For a player who stands out on the field for his sense of awareness, he realized there was a lot coming at him at once.
"It's surreal for me," Young said Friday at his first press conference here, shortly after his flight from Kansas City landed. "So I just want to say thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Tepper, to Scott (Fitterer) and to coach (Frank Reich), and to everyone who believed in me. This is an opportunity I don't take lightly; I don't take it for granted. And I know it's a huge blessing.
"I'm super excited to get to work. I'm super grateful my parents and everyone who made this possible for me. And I couldn't be more excited to be here, to be a Panther, and I'm ready to get to work."
"Surreal" has been a big word for Young in the last 24 hours, but the soft-spoken former Alabama quarterback better get used to this kind of treatment.
There's an obvious expectation when a team uses the No. 1 overall pick on you.
But at this moment, he's trying to stay in the moment and handle small things. He's not thinking about jersey numbers yet. He made multiple references to getting his hands on his playbook and eventually onto a practice field. There is a very Luke Kuechly vibe coming off this young man in these first hours here, not because of the level of play he may someday attain, but from the standpoint of Young's easy grace, his humility, and his ability to keep it mostly about the work.
Young admitted to being "a homebody" who likes staying close and watching YouTube videos and Netflix and basketball. That said, he's also pumped that basketball idol Steph Curry is a Panthers fan, but also aware (again with the awareness) that Curry has a pivotal Game 6 of the playoffs against the Kings tonight.
"Steph right now, he's got a lot on his plate right now, too," Young said with a laugh.
After the whirlwind tour of his new home ends, however, he clearly wants to get to work.
"I want to do everything I can to earn the respect of my peers and the guys in the locker room in the building," Young said. "I'm super grateful for what's happened in my past and, you know, in for being selected where I was, but I know that doesn't entitle me to anything. You know, it's on me to prove myself to show up every day and work and earn the respect of the people around me. That's something I'm looking forward to starting."
He also walks in the door with an obvious respect for the coaching staff they've put together for and around him.
From Reich to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown to quarterbacks coach Josh McCown, there are three guys who played in the league who will be coaching him every day. And then there's senior assistant Jim Caldwell, who used to be the quarterbacks coach for some guy named Peyton Manning. So that got Young's attention too.
"And for me, I feel like it's a great opportunity for me to work, for me to grow," Young said. "This coaching staff really, really stuck out to me, honestly, throughout this process. Even in the short time that I had in the visits here and the short meetings that we were allowed to have, I was able to learn so much in that short time now, being able to be here 24/7, for this to be my job, and I'm super-excited for the growth I'm going to have to come to Charlotte."
View photos of Bryce Young's arrival to Charlotte.