The Lions were driving for what appeared to be an inevitable touchdown against a reeling New Orleans Saints defense when Titus Young decided to throw a punch at a Saints defender on the two yard line.
The boneheaded punch cost the Lions offense 15 yards and resulted in another stalled drive that resulted in a field goal.
When Young came to the sidelines, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was the first to pull him aside for a little “Come to Jesus” meeting.
Next in Young’s reception line was offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who put a protective arm around Young while mentoring him like he was a wayward child.
By this time, Lions center and team captain Dominic Raiola came off the field and made a beeline for Young. No mentoring here, Raiola went thermonuclear on Young, who seemed transfixed by Raiola‘s venomous tirade.
No escape for the rookie miscreant.
Dom wasn’t finished by a long shot, either. His righteous indignation spilled over again in the locker room. “Grow the f**k up!” exploded Raiola repeatedly as stunned reporters and teammates looked on in dread of becoming Dom’s next target of opportunity.
“Grow the f**k up!”
Titus was contrite afterwards and fessed up. But acts of contrition are nothing new to Young, whose life is littered with senseless acts of selfishness, followed by redemption that has been all too fleeting.
I was tasked by a professional scout to put together a comprehensive report on Titus Demetrius Young prior to the 2011 NFL draft. Young had put up some dazzling statistics at Boise State, and despite his slight stature, had some fine measurables to go along with a brilliant Senior Bowl and combine.
I knew that I—the fledgling analyst—was being tested by the scout and thus determined to delve into Young as if my next paycheck depended upon it.
Here’s what I discovered:
Titus Young—The Early Years
Titus was the spoiled youngest of five children in the Young household. "TY", as his friends called him, was a scrawny little scrapper who ran with a tough crowd in L.A.
He was charismatic, and seemed blessed with great speed, but was prone to getting into trouble repeatedly in his prepubescent years. Nothing serious, mind you, but a wanton pattern was beginning to emerge.
In the ninth grade at University High School in Los Angeles, Young approached then head coach E.C. Robinson and brashly stated “Hey coach, I’m your new starting wide receiver!”
Robinson recalled the encounter with a chuckle. He told Titus to come back when he was two inches taller, 20 pounds heavier, was keeping out of trouble and was making good grades.
It was in the ninth grade that two things happened to Titus Young that changed his life’s path: First, those repeated trips to the Dean’s office finally netted Titus a long suspension from school.
Next, came a serendipitous growth spurt. Young had indeed gained the requisite height and weight.
Titus Young was on a mission. He left his truant, delinquent ways behind him, brought his grades up and became an California All State student athlete.
Bright and bubbly, the charismatic Young became the center of attention. A diva.
Have you ever seen those speed monitors that the police deploy on residential streets? You know—the ones that flash your speed as you approach them in your car? Well, Titus had a friend film him running at 28 mph down the street. That’s some elite speed, folks.
Oh, by the way, don't ever call Titus Young "Bartholomew." A nickname he picked up and despises.
The Boise State Experience
Young was recruited by Boise State in 2007, where head coach Chris Peterson and his staff immediately found that our diva was supremely talented, but virtually uncoachable.
The coaches were trying to get Young to change the way that he gripped the ball to no avail. As a result, the fumbles started piling up until Young was benched.
Young, ever the diva, was unrepentant.
In 2008, Young arrived sporting a bad attitude. Young missed several team meetings, refused to crack his playbook and was in danger of losing his academic eligibility.
Finally, Peterson had seen enough, suspending Young from all team activities for an indefinite period. Peterson went so far as to suggest that Young should transfer to another school, where he could make a fresh start.
If Young wanted to play for the Broncos, he would have to beg and grovel his way back into the coach’s good graces. Very un-diva like indeed.
Young, with the support of his parents, who are both ordained ministers, worked through this life crisis of his own making to return to Boise State with a new, humble attitude.
People have the ability to reinvent themselves, and that’s exactly what Titus Young did—for the second time in his youth.
Young went on to smash single season Broncos records for receiving yards (1215) in 2010, and career records in receiving yards (3063) and touchdowns (25).
Most importantly, Titus Young won his teammates and coaches at Boise State.
The Detroit Lions Experience
The Lions first took an interest in Young at the Senior Bowl, where receivers coach Shawn Jefferson interviewed him.
At the time, Young had a consensus second round draft grade, but displayed skills that were being compared by most to DeSean Jackson. When I spoke with coach Jefferson, I mentioned to him that what I saw of Young on film reminded me most of Anquan Boldin.
Jefferson agreed, saying that Young’s easy gait was more like Boldin than Jackson, but his hands and adjustments to the ball were better than both.
Here’s an example:
I want you to hold your hands up in front of your face and visualize looking the football into your waiting hands. Got it? Simple, right?
Now, I want you to cross your arms at the elbows and imagine catching the ball. Can’t do it, can you?
Titus Young can. Not only that, but he runs a variety of pass routes where he easily catches the ball behind his back! That’s making fine adjustments!
Ever the showoff, the diva is never far from Young’s surface.
Young’s NFL experience has gotten off to a rocky start. He suffered a hamstring pull in an informal workout during the NFL lockout that put severe limitations on his participation in training camp and the preseason.
Young would fidget on the sidelines while his teammates worked in the summer heat.
While Titus Young has displayed flashes of brilliance in 2011, he’s gaining a reputation for untimely penalties for false starts and illegal formations.
These are correctable errors, but one has to wonder if the “bad” Titus has reemerged after the selfish personal foul that led to his Week 13 benching along with the wrath of his teammates.
What, if any additional disciplinary measures are appropriate and warranted?
Titus Young should once again seek the council of his parents. His mother is a Detroit native whose family still resides here.
Perhaps it’s time for a family reunion of sorts. In any event, it’s time for Titus Young to reinvent himself—again.