Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young said he is determined to build on his rookie year during the upcoming 2012 season, using legendary running back Barry Sanders as inspiration for what he hopes is a breakout year.
Young, a 22-year-old out of Boise State, had his name called on draft night by the iconic running back. The wide receiver said the moment wasn't lost on him.
"I've always felt like the sky is the limit," Young told the Detroit News after Lions practice Monday. "Ever since Barry Sanders called my name (on draft day in 2011), I just felt like it was God-sent. For Barry Sanders to call my name, it just felt like he was passing me the torch."
Young has the advantage of having the pressure off him amongst the Lions' wide receiver corps, being the No. 2 receiver behind superstar Calvin Johnson.
In his rookie year in 2011, Young had a solid season, catching 15 touchdowns for 607 yards in 16 games. However, injuries prevented him from starting in seven of those contests.
Young has been one of the bright spots for the Lions in training camp as Detroit gears up for the 2012 NFL season.
"During voluntary workouts, organized team activities, minicamp and training camp, Young has been almost impossible to stop during practices," wrote Anwar Richardson of The Saginaw News. "He has the unique combination of speed, cutting ability, and great hands."
Young said he believes 2012 will be his coming out party, saying Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan dubbed him the team's "X-factor.
"I feel like from last year, me and Scott, we had a relationship ... it's just like trust in a relationship. You have to build that, and throughout the whole year and offseason, I feel like I've been building his trust, and we've been able to talk," Young said, according to The Saginaw News. "We've been able to communicate better, and he's been able to let me know what he really wants out of me. It's a joy to be able to come to work every day and your coach is excited about seeing what you can do, what he really wants out of me."
Linehan told the Detroit News that Young has been "outstanding" in training camp and sees the wide receiver improving on his rookie year.
"Titus has been always on an upward trend from the time he got here. He didn't have an offseason his first year and had a somewhat nondescript start, but he just got better on a weekly basis and finished really strong for us," the offensive coordinator said. ""He's picked up where he left off. He's really going to be a heck of a player. He is already at this point in his career, and he's got a lot of room for growth."