Longhorns spend time with military in San Diego
Dec. 26, 2011
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Texas’ third day in San Diego featured its last day of practice for the 2011 season and a tribute to the teams participating in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl as well as the U.S. Military with a luncheon on the USS Boxer.
For 26 players it was the final time they would practice for the University of Texas as the team hit the field for the final preparations before facing California on Wednesday in the Holiday Bowl at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego.
“It was good but different because I will never get to practice with those guys again,” said senior defensive tackle Kheeston Randall. “I have spent four years here and enjoyed all four years. It has been a blessing for me to be here. It is a complete ending to a chapter.”
The final practice was as fast-paced and competitive as they have been all year long, but the Longhorns showed a lighter side as well with players switching jerseys to show support to fellow teammates and to have fun.
“It was just something people were doing to have fun. It was our last practice so we wanted to be very enthusiastic and have a lot of energy,” said senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho. “Making sure we had a good time was a focal point of today’s practice. We are definitely loose and ready to play, now we just have to make sure we execute and have fun.”
After the early practice at U.C.-San Diego, the team bused to the San Diego Naval Base for the Navy & Marine Corps Luncheon held on the USS Boxer. Head coaches and athletic directors from both Texas and California spoke to the group of military personnel and the teams. Honorary captains from the crew on the USS Boxer were also selected with Quartermaster Second Class Darren Griggs being chosen to join the Longhorns as their honorary captain. Griggs is a soldier from Austin, Texas, and his selection brought big cheers from the players and staff of the University of Texas. Texas’ Bennie Wylie was also honored with the Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp Trophy at the luncheon.
Following the luncheon the teams were allowed to walk around the naval vessel and head up to the flight deck to speak with men and women from the Navy and Marines.
“It honestly means a lot to be here. I have never been on one of these ships before. [I have] only seen them in movies or read about them,” said junior running back D.J. Monroe. “I didn’t know we were going to an actual Navy battleship. It means a lot to be out here with the service men and women and show them our appreciation in the little time we have with them.”
The Texas players had an option to tour a Navy SEALs training facility after the trip to the USS Boxer, and a busload of players and coaches took advantage of the opportunity.
“We went to the Navy SEALs training facility and got to see the headquarters of where the best soldiers in the world get to train,” said senior tight end Blaine Irby. “Everything you see on TV or in movies and hear about makes it unreal to actually see it in person. I am just glad they are fighting for this country and giving us the freedom to play the game of football.”
The trip to the training facility of the Navy SEALs wrapped up the third day in San Diego for the Longhorns. The team is two days away from its Holiday Bowl matchup Wednesday at 7 p.m. (CT).