Young goes from doghouse to star for No. 3 Broncos
Titus Young was once so deep in Chris Petersen's doghouse that just seeing the football field again was going to be an accomplishment.
He enters the final two regular season games of his career at Boise State as the school's all-time leader in yards receiving.
Don't call it a comeback. Rather, it was that Young finally distanced himself from his youthful mistakes to become a receiver now on the radar of NFL scouts.
But his first priority comes Friday night when the No. 3 Broncos (10-0, 6-0 WAC) get their shot to strengthen their case for a BCS berth against No. 19 Nevada (10-1, 5-1).
A win will wrap up Boise State's eighth Western Athletic Conference title in the past nine seasons. It would also be their final one with the Broncos moving to the Mountain West Conference next year.
''I'll take a setback as a setup for a comeback,'' Young said after the Broncos' 51-0 win over Fresno State last Friday night. ''I learned from my mistakes and it's unfortunate I wasn't on the field for that time, but I still have the opportunity to play right now and I'm looking forward to the future. That was the past, just keep on building, keep on playing, keep on practicing.''
It wasn't that long ago that Young's career with the Broncos was in question. He was sent to the bench for most of the 2008 season, the reason still kept quiet by Boise State's coaches, but Young was banned from team activities for most of that time. His sophomore season was limited to just three games as he quickly went from a freshman star to a sophomore potentially on the outs. He didn't play after Oct. 1 of that season, and was left watching as the Broncos ran through yet another perfect regular season.
Young had a choice at the end of 2008: correct his attitude and fall in with what Petersen demanded, or find somewhere new to play.
''I knew he had the ability to come back and do what he was able to do, but I know there was some question in some people's minds,'' fellow receiver Austin Pettis said. ''But I really thought he was going to come back. He had a good thing going here and he was successful. He had a point where he had a little stumble, but he's definitely come back strong.''
Young's comeback began the second week of his junior season. He caught six passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns that day against Miami of Ohio. It was the start of a breakout season where Young had five games of at least 100 yards receiving, including a three-touchdown night against Hawaii.
More importantly, he began to regain the respect of Petersen and his teammates after the problems of 2008.
''You can see his maturity, and you can see it on the field with him right now,'' Pettis said. ''Coach Pete and the rest of the coaching staff don't have to do too much with him right now because you can see how much he's learned. If you ask those coaches about coaching him in his younger days, they will tell you that there was a lot more they had to go over with him and stuff he didn't catch on to as well.''
Another example of Young's growth as a receiver came last Friday night against Fresno State. Always blessed with blazing speed and the ability to get behind defenders in the WAC, Young now flashes more than just his deep threat. He made tough grabs on short routes along the sideline, even went across the middle for one of his eight catches, knowing he was about to get clocked by a waiting safety.
But it seemed only appropriate that what Young has become known for led to his latest entry in the Broncos' record books. On a 42-yard touchdown reception where he ran past cornerback Isaiah Green, Young became Boise State's all-time leader in yards receiving.
''When I'm running those routes, I'm running sprints and I don't like running sprints when the ball's not completed,'' Young joked. ''When it's executed it definitely feels really good.''
He needs just 12 more yards to crack 1,000 for the season and become the first Boise State receiver with two 1,000-yard seasons in his career. With two regular season games and a bowl game remaining, Young still has a shot at topping Tim Gilligan's school-record of 1,192 yards in 2003.
By the end of the season, Pettis, junior quarterback Kellen Moore and Young are likely to have their names at the top of every major passing category in the Broncos' record books.
''It's a blessing just how everything worked out for us,'' Young said. ''We came in at the same time, Kellen redshirted, but we're still on the same page. Kellen, we're still blessed with three years with him. It's not something I thought would work out this perfectly but it's kind of like a story, a dream come true.''