Murphy: Former Boise State star Titus Young needs help

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comMay 14, 2013 

Lions Jaguars Football

Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young (16) drops a pass in the end zone in front of Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Aaron Ross (31) during the second half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. The Lions won 31-14.

PHELAN M. EBENHACK — ASSOCIATED PRESS

In happier times, like 2009 and 2010 when he was a standout contributor on Boise State football teams that went 26-1, Titus Young's mischievous smile was disarming.

In that wide grin, you could see Young's childlike joy and impish nature.

That smile is gone.

The image of Young is now of a grim face in mug shots, three of them in less than a week.

His once-promising football career looks done, the speedy wide receiver having been released by the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams.

Now the concern is about his life.

Titus Young needs help - and fast.

He needs someone, anyone to get through to him - and fast.

"Maybe by him getting arrested, it will wake him up to say I need help and try to get some professional help," said E.C. Robinson, Young's high school football coach in Los Angeles and a friend. "If not, he's going to hurt somebody or somebody's going to kill him."

Young, 23, nearly met that fate Friday night, when he allegedly broke into a San Clemente, Calif., home. Homeowner Bill Plattos told Los Angeles-area media that he was loading a gun and was prepared to shoot the intruder.

"I just yelled at him, 'You better get the hell out of my house,' " Plattos told KTLA.

"I'm sure glad that he left and I didn't have to find out what's going to happen if he came in because I'm afraid I would have shot him."

Young later fought with police officers, according to authorities. He has been charged with felony attempted burglary and assaulting a police officer and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

Young remained in jail Monday, with a $75,000 bail, awaiting arraignment that could happen Tuesday.

On May 5, Young was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and, later that day, for trying to take his impounded car from a tow yard.

"I look at my son right now, I don't see my son. That's not my son," Young's father, Richard, told the Detroit Free Press.

"... He shut down, he look(s) through you. It's like he's depressed."

Robinson said he saw Young more than a month ago and knew something was wrong.

"I knew from the day he was with me that unless he could get some help, he wasn't going to make it," said Robinson, the father of former Boise State safety Jason Robinson. "I do believe he's got a mental problem. Something is wrong with Titus."

Something's been wrong with Young for a while now.

It was evident in Detroit, where Young - a second-round pick in 2011 who received a signing bonus of $1.8 million - sabotaged his own career.

He sucker-punched a teammate. He purposefully lined up in the wrong spot on the field. He alienated teammates and coaches. He took to Twitter to demand the ball, even at the expense of All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson. When the Lions cut him, he lasted less than two weeks with the Rams and coach Jeff Fisher, who is known for taking chances on players with character issues.

Robinson noticed changes in Young, who stopped returning his calls and would simply text his old coach. Young would call after games and complain about not getting the ball enough. Robinson urged patience, explaining that Young was in a perfect spot playing opposite Johnson, who commanded double-teams on nearly every play.

At Christmas, Young - already suspended, but not yet cut by the Lions - showed up with sagging pants and his hat on backward. Both are no-nos in the Robinson house, a fact Robinson's wife reminded him. His coach urged Young to leave Los Angeles and focus on his football future somewhere else.

"He wasn't near as bad as he was when I saw him last month," Robinson said.

Following the most recent meeting, Robinson became really worried.

Now everyone is.

Robinson fears Young has been smoking synthetic marijuana. Both Robinson and Richard Young believe Titus Young may have concussion-related problems.

Richard Young said his son has been to outpatient facilities in Texas and California and was to enter another facility Monday. Richard Young told the Detroit newspaper that Titus Young has been prescribed a powerful antipsychotic drug - Seroquel - that is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder but that he hasn't been taking it regularly.

Former teammates from Boise State and Detroit have asked for prayers on Twitter, imploring people to reach out to Young.

"Really need to pray for Titus Young for real! Really is a good dude wish someone reach out to him before anything tragic. #heslost," wrote Chris Huston, a former Lions' teammate.

Even a potential victim is asking for someone to help Young.

"I'm just shocked that this young man has fallen so low," Plattos told the Orange County Register. "I hope he has some family who can help him."

In August after a Lions' preseason game, Young told me how much of an impact Boise State coach Chris Petersen had on him, even though Petersen suspended him for most of his sophomore year. He told me he thinks of Petersen and the lessons he imparted on most mornings.

Young told me how much he'd matured, and talked about a good situation in Detroit.

"I'm 23 now, as of Aug. 21. Hopefully with age comes wisdom. 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," said Young, who has a young son. "... If my name was Old instead of Young, maybe I wouldn't be as immature."

Then he flashed that smile. A grin that makes even a skeptic smile back.

Maybe he didn't have it all figured out, but Young had enough - enough talent, enough charisma, enough good people around him, just enough good sense - to stay close enough to the right path.

He didn't.

Something is wrong with Titus Young.

And he needs help.

I hope he gets it.

I hope to see that smile once again.

Brian Murphy: 377-6444,Twitter: @MurphsTurph

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