When Titus Young brashly announced that he would play football for University High School in Los Angeles, everyone laughed at him.
Head coach E.C. Robinson recalled telling the ninth grader that he was too scrawny to play, and had way too many character issues to be a part of one of the state’s top football programs.
You see, Titus “T.Y.” Young was the stubborn, spoiled youngest of five according to Chad Cripe of the Idaho Statesman. Young was always in trouble, and repeated trips to the Dean’s office netted Young a long suspension from school.
A different Titus Young returned to school. He had left the streets behind him, brought his grades up, and proved to coach Robinson that he could make a contribution to the team.
And contribute he did. When all was said and done, Young piled up over 2,000 all purpose yards over his University High School career. He was named one of California’s All State players.
Always bright and bubbly, Young was the center of attention at all times. A diva.
Have you ever seen those speed control devices that the police deploy on residential streets? You know, the ones that flash your speed at you as you drive by? Well, Young had a friend film him as he dashed down the street at 28 MPH! That’s some speed, folks!
Young was recruited by Boise State in 2007. There was trouble almost immediately with head coach Chris Peterson and his staff. Young was proving to be less than coachable. This was apparent when he wouldn’t change his style of gripping the ball. The fumbles piled up, and Young was benched often because of it.
The 2008 season opened with Young seeing very limited action in three games. Young missed WR meetings, and never cracked his playbook.
Finally, Peterson had seen enough. Young was suspended indefinitely, and was barred from all team activities. Peterson advised Young that he should transfer to another program.
This was a crushing blow to Young, who now had to fight the battle of his life against his own immaturity.
Young was fortunate to have the support of his parents. Both are ordained ministers who guided him through this life crisis through prayer and introspection.
Young did not transfer to another program. He reinvented himself as a more mature, focused player and person.
Coach Peterson and his staff decided to gamble on Young, and reinstated him to the team after the 2008 season.
Young was not subdued upon his return, but took on the mantle of leadership in the locker room. On the field, Young wore out defenses with a combination of disciplined routes, great speed, soft hands, and athleticism.
Young would go on to set the Boise State career record for a WR with 3063 yards, and 25 touchdowns. His 1215 receiving yards in 2010 were also a Boise State record.
Most importantly, Young won his teammates, and his coaches.
The Lions first took an interest in Young at the Senior Bowl where receivers coach Shawn Jefferson interviewed him, and watched his workouts carefully. At the NFL Combine, the Lions were hooked.
It is thought by many that Young’s disastrous 2008 season cost him a first-round draft grade. Not true. Between January, 2011, and the April draft, Young had a consensus mid second-round grade.
College production comparisons aside, Young does have the same skill set that has made Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson a huge success in the NFL.
I have seen a clip on YouTube where Young is catching poorly thrown balls one-handed, reaching back, and even catching a ball behind his back.
I want you to try something. Hold your hands up in front of your face as if waiting for the ball to arrive. Easy catch, right? Now, I want you to cross your arms at the wrists. Can you catch a football now? I thought not.
Titus Young can make that catch, and he makes it look easy. He makes all the catches look silly easy.
Initially, Young will play in the slot until he can prove that he can beat the “jam” at the line of scrimmage. While he will see reps as a kickoff and punt return specialist in training camp, Young will be an emergency option for the Lions in that role.
Young’s transition to the NFL will be eased by the mentoring of veteran wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson. More importantly, Young has a built in support group in Detroit.
Young’s mother is from Detroit, you see, and family will play a pivotal role in guiding the budding future star.
Welcome to the “D”, T.Y. Now get to work!
Mike Sudds is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.