DETROIT Titus Young finds himself in an ideal situation entering his second NFL season with the Detroit Lions. The former Boise State school record holder in receiving yards and touchdowns is with one of the most prolific passing offenses in the league with a quarterback who threw for more than 5,000 yards last season and a wide receiver who is, almost inarguably, the best in the game.
Young, who turned 23 in August, played extensively as a rookie, hauling in 48 passes for 607 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games. He is in the same system this year, only with another year of experience in the pro game.
A breakout season 1,000 yards, double-digit touchdowns is a real possibility with a healthy Matthew Stafford at quarterback (5,308 yards, 41 touchdowns in 2011) and star receiver Calvin Johnson (96 receptions, 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2011) on the opposite side of the field to attract coverage.
Everything, it seems, has fallen into place for the 5-foot-11, 174-pounder from Los Angeles.
Now, can Young handle it?
Can the temperamental youngster the one who was suspended several times at Boise State, the one who has battled maturity issues in his brief NFL stint, the one who fought with a teammate in summer workouts and was banned from the teams facility be mature enough to seize the spotlight?
Hopefully with age comes wisdom, Young said in the Lions locker room after their final preseason game Thursday night. And learning from your mistakes is one of the big things that a human being can do is actually learn from what they go through.
To do that to grow into the person, the player and the leader that he aspires to be Young leans on the lessons he learned at Boise State. He considers coach Chris Petersen, the same coach who once suspended Young from the majority of the 2008 season without a promise of a return to the team, a father figure. Young still cites Petersens advice extensively, pointing to it as an ideal he knows he still doesnt always live up to.
Hes always held me to a high standard and hes never dropped his standards for anybody. Its kind of hard to keep a high standard all through your life, to actually live with integrity day in and day out, Young said. Being a guy with class and showing you what the game should be about. Its not just performing, but about all those little things.
Hes right. The more I pay attention to all those little things and being a champion all day long. Hes taught me that championships arent won on the field, theyre won as soon as you wake up in the morning.
When he does wake up in the morning, Young said he often thinks of Petersen of the chances the coach gave him, of the extent to which the lessons learned at Boise State have carried over.
I really just smile because the opportunity I have is because of the discipline he installed in me, Young said.
The opportunity is there now for Young and his team. The Lions went 10-6 last season and reached the playoffs. Their offensive core returns and a young defensive line led by former Nebraska star Ndamukong Suh is emerging.
Young, who publicly predicted a Boise State victory in the season opener against Michigan State, wont make any prognostications on his own season. He wants to play with consistent effort and he wants to make every day count, two more nuggets from Petersen.
If feel like every single day, if I make it count, everything else will take care of itself, he said.
Young is saying all the right things. He is in an ideal spot. His future appears as bright as his beaming smile.
Now comes the hard part: Learning from mistakes, paying attention to those little things, making every day count.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444;Twitter: @MurphsTurph