SAN ANTONIO -- From wide-eyed freshman to record-setting quarterback to undisputed leader of the 2007 Longhorns, Colt McCoy has come out guns blazing from Day 1. He's got the numbers, but now he has what is most important for him as a leader: His teammates' respect.

At the Big 12 Media Days in San Antonio, Longhorn head coach Mack Brown sat on stage under the lights fielding questions from reporters, when he was interrupted by a question from overhead. He glanced up and to his left to find the source of the query and found his star quarterback standing on a side balcony, looking down over the proceedings.

"How do you feel about small town guys? Are they good guys?" repeated Texas starting quarterback Colt McCoy, a native of Tuscola, Tex. (population: 714), drawing laughter from Brown and the assembled press.

"Well, some of them are," responded Brown. He then gave a smile to the balcony and continued, "ones that stay healthy."

Laughter from all. Brown turned back to reporters to continue the press conference while adding: "It's amazing what a year of confidence does to a young quarterback."

Amazing, indeed. But that's McCoy's calling card now, which is a far cry from a redshirt freshman with no collegiate experience being thrust into action. It was a bumpy ride for McCoy in 2006 as he acclimated himself to the role of starting quarterback, and also as his teammates acclimated themselves to having a new and unproven leader at the helm.

"I feel confident knowing my teammates respect me," said McCoy. "It was hard earning their respect after Vince (Young) left, but now I know they do."

Senior nose tackle Derek Lokey, who lived with McCoy all of last season, saw his progression every step of the way. The stout defender acknowledged that it took a while for the team to rally behind the new face of Texas football.

"It was a slow process," Lokey admitted. "Jevan Snead) came in the spring and was there too, so there was always competition, but when he (McCoy) was named the starter it became his team."

Lokey has been very close with his QB, helping McCoy get acclimated to the job when the task of starter was given to him, but perhaps the most important teammate in McCoy's development was senior wide receiver Limas Sweed. Working with Sweed, McCoy learned how to relax and how to lead.

"It funny seeing him come in at first. He's a real country boy, kind of reminds me of myself, actually," said Sweed. "It was tough for him to say anything at first because he had no game experience, no credential. It's hard to take over as a leader when you haven't done anything. Now, when he speaks, the younger guys listen because guys remember what he's done. They remember the times he brought us back."

Lokey agreed with Sweed on the importance of becoming an established player, but said there's much more to McCoy's ascension.

"It's more than just what he's done. Guys really respect him for who he is," said Lokey. "He's confident, but not cocky. I know the team's behind him."

But how was McCoy able to make the transition so quickly? How did this wide-eyed freshman rapidly rally the Longhorns once the season began. According to McCoy, it's all about having fun.

"You've got to have fun," said McCoy. "Coach Brown told me, 'If you're not having fun, you're not going to be successful.'"

McCoy said being calm, enjoying himself and being a leader came naturally to him because of how long he's been preparing. According to McCoy, the nervousness was never there for him.

"I dreamed about being here growing up and now it's something that's real and I'm just going to enjoy it," said McCoy.

McCoy is definitely enjoying his role Texas' starting quarterback, but he was also clearly relaxed having fun with his teammates at the Big 12 Media Days. Along with the aforementioned exchange with his head coach, during his interview session McCoy went back and forth a bit with Texas safety Drew Kelson.

Officially, Kelson wasn't there as a player. The Corporate Communications major was gaining journalistic experience for his future career once his playing days are over and stood amongst the throng of reporters with a microphone in hand. Kelson jokingly asked his quarterback if he planned on doing anything to try and look tougher. You know, less like a 12-year-old boy.

McCoy's face dropped into the meanest looking faux-scowl he could muster and stared evenly at Kelson for as long as he could hold it before losing control in fit of shared laughter.

"Listen, I'm having fun," said McCoy. "My goal is to stay like I'm 12."

Like a 12-year-old playing in the back yard, reenacting scenes of championship glory, McCoy hopes this year he'll be able to live out those heroics and finally be the one holding crystal in his hands at the end.

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