Young Shall Return (In More Ways Than One)

QB Vince Young is breaking school records with nearly every outing, but the one thing Texas coach Mack Brown does not expect his superstar to break is his vow to return for his fifth season. But what was up with VY's nondescript outing at Texas A&M? And has he now been relegated to a 2005 Heisman also-ran?

"I don't think there's any question that Vince is staying," Brown said Monday. "It's like with Roy Williams: it's been that way since we recruited him. His mom said she wanted him to redshirt and then have four years. He's already got a degree plan in place. But, in fairness to Vince, if on January 14 he decided he wanted to go (pro), we'd be the first to say 'good.'"

Young patiently reaffirms his decision nearly every time he addresses the media. Part of the speculation has to do with how much post-season success -- a Heisman Trophy or a national championship, for example -- will factor into his choice. Probably not much, according to Brown.

"Those aren't the reasons for which, four years ago, he said he would leave," Brown said. "It's based on other things. He's having fun but he also knows he can get better."

VY has had more fun weekends than the one recently spent in College Station. Four days later, he remains under the media's microscope following what many pigskin pundits say was a subpar performance that failed to hold serve with USC's Reggie Bush's 500+ yard production against Fresno State on November 19. Young netted just 19 yards rushing (11 carries) and was 13-of-24 passing for 162 yards against the nation's lowest-rated pass defense. He fumbled twice (losing one) and threw an INT. More than that, he appeared frustrated and out-of-sync during much of the contest. There was the badly overthrown pass to a wide-open David Thomas. There was the series where Vince could have strolled untouched for a first down but nearly threw his second pick. There were the uncovered receivers on intermediate routes but VY opted for the long ball.

Then again, he engineered the program's sixth straight win over the Aggies to improve his record to 28-2 as a starter. It's been more than 30 years since Texas has won three straight at College Station, and Young posted two of those Ws in Aggieland. The Horns have posted an undefeated regular season for the first time in 22 years and are 60 minutes away from playing for the national championship. So, was Friday's game simply one of those rarest of moments when Texas won in spite of Vince Young rather than because of him?

Young's outing was generally indicative of the rest of his teammates, Brown said, in that nearly every Longhorn expected to easily hang an historic loss on their in-state arch-rival. In short, Texas wanted to kill 'em. And when that didn't happen against a group of die-hards who had little to lose, the offense overcompensated by trying to rack up points on nearly every play. Truth be told, Young probably tried to put up Heisman-like numbers with every snap as well.

"What I've got to manage this week," Brown said, "is keeping them from being over the top with it and understanding that Colorado has good players, too."

Lately, Heisman voters tend to punch their ballots based on one or two late-season games. VY might still be the frontrunner had either of Texas' two OSU games (Ohio State, Oklahoma State) games been played last Friday. The flip side of this type of myopic voting is that Vince has one remaining high profile game with the Big 12 championship this Saturday against Colorado.

"I think what will happen, based on my experience with the Heisman in 1998, is everybody will look next (Saturday) and they'll have Vince in there and Reggie (Bush) after that (when USC plays UCLA)," Brown said. "I'll bet the voters hold their votes until then. Vince has had a wonderful year. He's had a year that's good enough to win the Heisman."

Look closely and you'll see that every Heisman finalist has at least one bad day at the office, Brown said. Vince's game Friday, though erratic, was good enough to beat the Aggies by two scores on their own grass.

"It was missed Friday that he broke the school record for most touchdowns (accounted for) in a season (31)," Brown noted. "He passed Major Applewhite's school record for single-season total offense (3,369). He tied Bobby Layne's record for most career wins (28). He's breaking things right and left."

Young was the last Longhorn to leave Kyle Field. Long after teammates departed for belated Thanksgiving meals, Young did not pack his gear until he accommodated every autograph request from every child present.

"He signed every one of them," Brown said, "and I'll bet he stayed an extra hour. That's the kind of heart he has. Seventeen wins ago, people didn't think he could play quarterback. And now they're all worried about him leaving early to be an NFL quarterback. It just goes to show that you've got to be who you are and you've got to believe in yourself and know that some days are going to work better than others."

Obviously, for Young, most days have been better than Friday, November 25. Perhaps the only thing more obvious to his head coach is that Young's best days are in front of him.

"I feel like it's all ahead of him," Brown concluded. "He hasn't even scratched the surface of how good he can be."

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