There's every reason to believe that Titus Young, a second-year receiver for the Detroit Lions, will be a solid NFL player for a long time. But that, in the eyes of Titus Young, would be selling him very short.
He sees himself as some kind of a successor to Barry Sanders in Detroit. The following tweet is from Dave Birkett, who covers the Lions for the Detroit Free Press:
Titus Young was asked today how good he can be. Said when Barry Sanders called name at draft "it just felt like he was passing me the torch"
Yeah, I'm pretty sure he just said your name.
Not that I wish to castigate Titus Young here. He's a fine player and he apparently thinks highly of his abilities, and there's nothing wrong with that. If he felt some kind of cosmic connection between himself and (arguably) the greatest running back of all time, then that's great. If it pushes him to maximize his potential, even better.
Two things come to mind, though, that make me pretty confident that Barry Sanders didn't share the same torch-passing experience: 1) If he was going to pass the torch to someone, I don't know why he would've waited 13 years to do it; and 2) Calvin Johnson exists. If anyone in Detroit is carrying No. 20's torch, it's Megatron. Also, Young may want to stop cold-cocking his teammates in practice. That'd be an excellent first step.
Asked after Monday's practice how good Young can be, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was a bit more cautious.
"Well, he's an important part of our plans," Schwartz said. "How, you know, breakout and everything else, I mean that's all relative as we go through the year. I mean the whole object is to score points, operate efficiently on offense, win games and he's a guy that can help us do that."
Young has every right to be confident and optimistic about his future as a Lion. He's very quick, he's good after the catch, and his routes are crisp. As a rookie, he caught 48 passes for 607 yards and six touchdowns, all respectable totals that put him in the top 10 among rookie pass catchers in 2011.
I just don't believe he can claim ownership of Barry Sanders' torch. At least not yet. If he wants to claim that Germane Crowell or Brett Perriman passed him their torch, I'll listen. For the immediate future, though, he probably shouldn't concern himself with being the next Barry.
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