Texas-Sized Celebration For Champion Horns

Forgoing his last year at Texas to enter the NFL draft, Vince Young had never experienced a Senior Night or taken a goodbye lap at DKR-Memorial Stadium. Sunday night, Young took that lap.

With the lower deck packed with 50,000 fans, the 2005 squad met for the last time on the same field to celebrate the National Championship season.

The party kicked off with the players trotting out of the stadium's tunnel with the Jumbotron playing the familiar gameday entrance video with a new twist -- a brief image of the BCS Championship Trophy.

After video highlights from the season played on the screen, Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds and UT President Larry Faulkner gave brief speeches. Then, coach Mack Brown and Texas players took the podium to a roaring ovation.

Brown took the time to thank his coaching staff and all those in the program who made the season a success. He also paid tribute to coach Darrell Royal for setting up a classy program and thanked Longhorn fans for their support while telling them to take pride in the team's success.

"This is one night we can say 'Hook 'Em' and take down the little finger because we are No. 1," said Brown.

Before walking to the microphone, Young paused to hug the championship trophy sitting next to the podium and gave fans a bittersweet moment. Despite his early departure from the Forty Acres, he told his teammates and fans he will never stray too far from home.

"We went through a lot of memories, and you will always be in my heart," said Young. "I'm always going to be around, and I love you."

Justin Blalock used his time on stage to announce he will return for his senior season after spending the past couple of weeks considering a departure to the NFL.

"I have a little bit of bad news," said Blalock. "To the defensive linemen in the Big 12 -- I will be returning for my senior year."

With the scoreboard flashing the Rose Bowl final score in the background, David Thomas, Rod Wright and Michael Griffin also addressed the crowd and used the time to thank the fans and congratulate fellow players.

Griffin also used the opportunity to light-heartedly apologize to teammate Tarell Brown, who broke his arm in the Rose Bowl after colliding with Griffin.

The celebration closed with fireworks and confetti, while Young made his final lap around the stadium.

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