His Great-Great-Great Grandfather Found the Mormons' Promised Land; Now Steve Young Is Scoring TDs There

updated 11/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

In 1847, at the age of 46, Brigham Young led 148 of his Latter-day Saints from Nebraska to an oasis in Utah's Great Salt Lake valley. There he founded the home of the Mormon Church. He ruled his followers for 30 years more and along the way married 27 times and begat 56 children. Today, of some 5.2 million Mormons, there are at least 5,000 direct descendants of Brigham Young. One of them, Steve Young, 21, has a special place in the flock: He is quarterback of the Brigham Young University football team.

Moreover, as of last week Steve, a 6'2" junior, was No. 1 in the nation in total offense, with 2,362 yards passing and running and an average of 337.4 yards per game. His finest afternoon so far in BYU's 5-2 season was a 51-3 rout of the University of Texas at El Paso, in which Young passed for 399 yards (completing 24 of 32) and ran for another 97—but played little more than half the game. Meanwhile, he has a 3.3 average as an international relations and finance major.

His father, LeGrande Young, a corporate lawyer in Greenwich, Conn., was a BYU fullback in the '50s. Growing up in Greenwich, which he still calls home, Steve was not only captain of the high school baseball, basketball and football teams but also one of just two Mormons in his class. His religion's ban on alchohol and drugs posed no problem, even at parties. "I was the one who drove everyone else home," he laughs. He has postponed taking two years off for missionary work, as most young Mormon men do, because of his gridiron success. Though his school's three previous QBs turned pro, Young claims, "I just want to graduate," then study law. As for his lofty lineage, he says, "I don't think much about it. After all, Brigham Young has so many descendants." Indeed another emerging BYU star is Steve's younger brother, Mike, the QB on the freshman squad.

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