Mission Accomplished: Young Announces For NFL

Stating that his "hard work has paid off," All-American Texas quarterback Vince Young declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft Sunday, four days after leading the program to its first national title in 35 years and fourth overall.

"I felt I was ready to go," Young said. "I accomplished a lot of the things I wanted to accomplish in college. I'm ready to move on to the next level."

At various times throughout the season, Young told members of the media that he would return for his senior season. In fact, head coach Mack Brown declared his belief that Young would be back for the 2006 season. The fact that the 2005 Longhorns realized a championship goal set when Young's class was signed in 2002 figured into his decision. He also saw his stock soar after garnering his second consecutive Rose Bowl MVP award and is now expected to be one of the top three players selected on Draft Day.

"The whole entire season I was planning on coming back," Young said, "but the level I'm on right now is a one-time thing. I'm gonna take a jump at it right now if I can."

The most likely Draft day scenario has the Tennessee Titans taking VY as their No. 1 pick, the third pick overall. The obvious appeal for Young is that he would be under the tutelage of QB Steve McNair whom, for years, he has accounted as a mentor.

"It would mean a great deal to go with Steve and learn the game with him coaching me," Young continued. "Whatever team that picks me, I'm going to go in and work and be the same guy that I am today: a leader and a hard worker who loves the game of football."

The Houston Texans, of course, have the top draft pick but are expected to sign Heisman winner Reggie Bush.

"It would be wonderful to play at home, being a Houstonian," said Young.

Although he has had four years at the Forty Acres, Young is the first underclassman of coach Mack Brown's eight-year tenure to forego his final year of eligibility by announcing for the Draft. Brown is in attendance at the annual NCAA Coaches Convention but released a statement of support for Young.

"We love Vince and appreciate all the great things he's done for The University of Texas, on and off the field," Brown said in the press release. "He's been a great quarterback and a leader for us and an even better representative of our program off the field. We'll miss him, but we want him to do as well in the NFL as he did in college. I expect all of the Texas fans to be happy and supportive of Vince. He's done great things for our program."

The hardest part about the decision was trying to make everyone happy, Young said. He did not fully arrive at his choice until conferring with family members, his pastor and Longhorn coaches this weekend.

"My mother always said you can't move forward until after you pray, and that's what we did this morning," Young said.

Pending Young's return, Texas was a prohibitive favorite to repeat as national champs. Yet, Young's decision seems to have done little to temper Brown's expectations for the 2006 campaign, according to the release.

"We have 15 starters back next year and our expectations today remain the same as before Vince's decision," Brown said. "We are defending champions and we will move forward."

The Horns will defend their championship with a quarterback who has yet to take a collegiate snap. The heir apparent is RS-freshman-to-be Colt McCoy, but Stephenville commit Jevan Snead comes closer to fitting the profile that Brown wants in a dual-threat quarterback. The Horns also have a pledge from Arlington Bowie signalcaller Sherrod Harris.

On Sunday, Young praised McCoy as a "smart quarterback" who is a hard worker with "a great arm." He also left McCoy this parting advice: "The biggest key is getting that respect. He's already getting the respect of the other guys and, like I told him all year, the biggest thing is getting the respect of the other guys. You have to get those guys to believe in you. You don't have to make the big play all the time. Just be their leader and their quarterback. Take it upon yourself to learn the offense. He's been answering a lot of questions in meetings that, when I was a freshman, I couldn't answer. I'm proud of him and I'm looking forward to seeing him play."

Young emphasized that he intends to get his degree at Texas, adding that he is currently 30 hours short of that goal. He will attend to course work this summer, he said, but will devote the spring to attending NFL combines and generally preparing for Draft Day, set for the last Saturday in April.

All-American OT Justin Blalock is expected to announce his decision regarding the NFL Draft later this week. Juniors have until January 15 to declare themselves eligible.

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