Longhorns have magical evening Thursday in Orlando
ORLANDO -- The Texas Longhorns came away as the big winners at The Home Depot 2005 ESPN College Football Awards on Thursday night in Orlando. Vince Young won both the Maxwell Award (nation's top player) and the Davey O'Brien Award (nation's top quarterback), while Michael Huff won the Thorpe Award (nation's top defensive back).
Huff, Jonathan Scott and Rod Wright were also honored as members of the Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America Team.
Young is the third winner of the Maxwell Award in Texas history. The last winner was Ricky Williams in 1998, with Tommy Nobis winning in 1965. The other finalists this year were RB Reggie Bush and QB Matt Leinart of USC.
"For the Maxwell, the all-around player of the year, that's a special award I was blessed with, knowing that there were some great players up for that award," Young said. "It's just a blessing to be here and I'm really enjoying it."
Young becomes UT's second O'Brien Award winner, following Earl Campbell, who won the award in 1977 before the it was changed to honor only quarterbacks. The other finalists were Leinart and Brady Quinn of Notre Dame.
"The O'Brien means a whole lot because a lot of people have said I'm not a quarterback, that I should be a receiver, so to answer those critics with that award is a blessing and a great moment I'll cherish for the rest of my life," Young said. "I thank my offensive linemen and all of my teammates for giving me that."
Head Coach Mack Brown, offensive coordinator Greg Davis and co-defensive coordinator Duane Akina were all in attendance at the show held at the Atlantic City Dance Hall on Disney's Boardwalk in Orlando.
"(Vince) is very deserving, number one, to do what he's done with our football program," Brown said. "It was obvious he had a lot of good players around him tonight and a lot of great players at home that weren't here tonight. For a young man to endure the criticism that he did early as a quarterback and come out as the player of the year for his football team was really special."
Huff is the first winner of the Thorpe Award in UT history, and there has only been one other finalist when Quentin Jammer was honored in 2001.
"I sat there nervous waiting for my name to be called, and once they called it, at first I had to sit there and think about it a minute," Huff said. "I hugged all of my family and Coach Akina. It was just a great feeling that showed all of the hard work paid off. Coach Akina has been with me the last five years, and it feels great for me to win it for him, the secondary and the whole defense. It was because they did their jobs that I got this award."
The other finalists included Tye Hill of Clemson and Jimmy Williams of Virginia Tech.
"I couldn't be happier for Michael Huff," Brown said. "He's a guy that's such a valuable part of our defense and our team not only with what he can do physically, but what he brings to the game mentally. I'm really happy that all of the Thorpe voters recognized how valuable of a player he is because there's no question we think he's the best defensive back in the country."
"I've been saying all season long that I thought he was the best defensive back in the country, even if he did not win this award," Akina added. "You could tell that the voters were paying attention - his production and his numbers show that he was the best defensive back, but we've been talking about it all year, he brings to the table so many of those intangibles that you can't measure on paper. I think as the season wore on, more people realized that too."
Huff was also recognized as a member of the Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America team and was joined on the team by Rod Wright and Jonathan Scott. Cedric Benson and Derrick Johnson were named to the team in 2004. Wright is the first defensive tackle to make the team since Casey Hampton in 2000, while Scott is the first OL since Derrick Dockery in 2002. Jammer represented the defensive backs last in 2001.