"It's such a team award," Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik said. "You don't get individual awards without playing really well as a team. Obviously, we've had our moments and we haven't played great all the time but, certainly as a team and as a unit, all those guys have earned the right to be on that team. It's a great statement for The University of Texas, period."
For Young, the designation recognizes his body of work at a time when many focus on his relatively subpar outing at Texas A&M.
"If he had 500 yards on Friday, it wouldn't make him a different person," Brown said. "It makes the discussions different, but I thought he handled that really well. There are a lot more media people around him after games than there are me."
Young's honor marks the fourth time a Longhorn has been named Offensive Player of the Year, the most of any school in the ten-year history of the Big 12. (Major Applewhite was named the league's top offensive player in 1999 while Ricky Williams garnered the designation during the two previous season.) The Heisman candidate is also a finalist for the Maxwell Award (nation's top player) and the Davey O'Brien Award (nation's top quarterback). Young now holds the Texas single-season record for total offense (3,369) and tied Bobby Layne's record for most wins with his 28-2 mark.
Texas is the only Big 12 school to have both the Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year for the same season and has accomplished that twice with RB Cedric Benson and WLB Derrick Johnson taking the honors in 2001. Charles is the fifth Longhorn to earn Offensive Freshman of the Year honors, which is also the most of any school. Young (2003), RB Cedric Benson (2001), WR Roy Williams (2000) and Applewhite (1998) are previous honorees. Charles is Texas' second-leading rusher (behind Young) with 782 yards on 107 carries (7.3 ypc). He has nine touchdowns while his 80-yard TD run is Texas' longest play from scrimmage this season.
With Orakpo, Texas has had four players named Defensive Freshman of the Year, which tops the conference.
"He was just a little bitty guy when he got here, is my understanding," Chizik told me. "He's got speed and power. He's gotten bigger and faster, but he's still learning the game. That position down there on the defensive line is one that you've got to adjust to. You can't just walk in there and be a player. You've got to really understand the game down there and he's done a good job of that."
Orakpo joins LDT Rod Wright (2002), Johnson (2001) and DE Cory Redding (1999). He has 25 tackles, four TFL and nine QB pressures on the season. Statistically, his best game came at Oklahoma State (five tackles, three pressures) but, arguably, his best game was at Texas A&M. He had four tackles, including one TFL, but his fourth-quarter recovery of QB Stephen McGee's fumble on the Longhorn 14 staved off a potential game-tying TD drive.
Joining VY on the Big 12 first team is junior RT Justin Blalock, senior LT Jonathan Scott, senior SS Michael Huff, senior RG Will Allen, junior DE Tim Crowder, senior RCB Cedric Griffin, senior MLB Aaron Harris and senior RDT Rod Wright. Huff is also a finalist for the Thorpe Award (nation's top DB), while Wright is a finalist for the Lombardi Award (nation's top lineman).
In addition to Offensive Freshman of the Year, Charles was also named to the second team. Senior TE David Thomas earned his second straight second-team honor, and sophomore DT Frank Okam earned his first all-conference selection by being named to the second team.
The All-Big 12 Honorable Mention team included Orakpo, senior DT Larry Dibbles, sophomore SLB Robert Killebrew, junior FS Michael Griffin, sophomore WR Billy Pittman, junior DE Brian Robison, and sophomore RB/WR Ramonce Taylor.
Mack Brown, who is a finalist for the Munger Award (national coach of the year), becomes the first Texas coach to receive the league honor. Texas and Oklahoma are tied for the most major award honorees in the history of the conference with 16.