Postseason Football awards show that Texas is more than a lone star state
As the accolades continued for members of his 2005 University of Texas football team, the first ever in school history to record a 12-0 mark heading into a bowl game, Coach Mack Brown added perspective to the avalanche of hardware garnered by his men.
"These are considered individual awards," Brown began, referring to the Maxwell, the O'Brien and the Thorpe awards, all captured by Longhorns.
"But in reality," he continued, "they are not individual awards. They are team awards. They are team awards because the individuals who won them know they couldn't have done so without their teammates."
Or their coaches.
And Brown's Longhorns won quite a few:
Young is the first Texas quarterback ever to be named to the AP first team and the first UT quarterback to be recognized for an All-America team since Marty Akins was so honored by the Football Writers Association of America in 1975 and Bobby Layne by that group in 1946-47, as well as The Sporting News in 1947.
Young, who also was a runner-up to Southern Cal's Reggie Bush for the Heisman Trophy, echoed Brown's remarks when he grabbed the Maxwell Award as the nation's top player and the Davey O'Brien Award, which is given to the nation's top quarterback.
Young was the third Longhorn to win the Maxwell -- Ricky Williams in 1998 and Tommy Nobis in 1965 were the others. Young was the second to win the O'Brien. Earl Campbell claimed the inaugural O'Brien in 1977 when it was an award to the outstanding player in the southwestern U.S. In 1981, it was renamed the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award after the TCU great.
"These awards mean a great deal because it is a reward for all of the hard work put in by my teammates and me," Young said. "Coach Davis had faith in me. Coach Brown has supported me."
Greg Davis, Texas' offensive coordinator, returned the compliment to Young in kind.
"I feel like a proud father," Davis told the Austin American-Statesman.
Young tied a Texas record with 26 touchdown passes in 2005 and had a completion rate of 63.3 percent. He threw for 2,769 yards. He also set a Texas single-season record with 3,619 yards in total offense.
"I was surprised to get this award," Young said of the O'Brien, noting that the other finalists (Matt Leinart of Southern Cal and Brady Quinn of Notre Dame) also were deserving.
"Matt and Brady are great quarterbacks," Young added. "This means a whole lot to me because a lot of people doubted me about being a quarterback."
Brown said to the Dallas Morning News, "For Vince, I think this is a great message to coaches and young players everywhere. If people doubt you, just keep believing in yourself."
While Young's disappointment of being No. 2 in the Heisman race is understandable, his joy in winning the O'Brien ahead of Leinart and Quinn may have been the most important of all to UT's junior quarterback.
At least, that was the opinion of teammate Michael Huff.
"The O'Brien was the one he wanted to win," Huff said of Young in an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "For him to win that award was a tribute to how hard he has worked. He's come a long way and he was deserving."
As was Huff, who became the first Longhorn ever to win the Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation's top defensive back.
"It hit me when they announced my name," Huff said. "I almost started to cry, but then I couldn't cry on national TV. That no one from Texas ever before had won this award means so very much."
Huff recorded 97 tackles -- nine for losses -- during the 2005 season. He owns UT records for career interceptions returned for touchdowns (four) and most touchdowns scored by a defensive back (five).
"Michael is the smartest player I've ever coached," co-defensive coordinator Duane Akina told the Dallas Morning News.
Young added his own perspective to the awards won by saying, "This will show the world what a good team The University of Texas is."
Texas has the opportunity to show it on the field as it goes for its fourth national championship in school history -- its first since 1970 -- against the University of Southern California on January 4 in the Rose Bowl.
This marks the first time since the inception of the new championship system in 1998 that the top two teams in the initial rankings in October have made it to the title game without a loss.
"Ain't no party like a Longhorn party," Young chanted on the Reliant Stadium turf in the aftermath of the 70-3 win over Colorado in the Big 12 Championship Game on December 3 in Houston, giving Texas the right to tangle with USC in the BCS title game.
Young was joined in the on-field, postgame revelry by defensive tackle Larry Dibbles who, with Young, displayed some hip gyrations in a victory dance. Running back Selvin Young took time to smell the rose he'd been presented.
"If this isn't fun," Brown told the Houston Chronicle after winning his first conference title in 22 years as a head coach, "then you need to find something else to do."
At the Texas Football Awards Banquet, tight end David Thomas thanked his fellow seniors for the great run that was the 2005 regular season.
"We had fun last year in California," Thomas said of the thrilling Rose Bowl triumph against Michigan. "But this time, we're not going out there for fun. We're going out to bring back a National Championship trophy."
Added Brown, "This bunch has controlled their own destiny all season."
And they get to do so one more time in the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains in Pasadena, Calif., against defending national champion USC.