A record setting quarterback at UT and former graduate assistant coach for Mack Brown, Major Applewhite is joining the Longhorns' staff as assistant head coach and running backs coach, Brown said on Wednesday. Applewhite returns to his alma mater after spending the past season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Alabama, where he was the youngest coordinator in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
"We're really excited to have Major back," Brown said. "He was a great player for us and we saw him growing into a terrific coach as a graduate assistant here for two years. He's had a chance to go work at a few other places, gain some great experience and will be a tremendous addition to our staff. Having your coaches become head coaches and your ex-players join your current staff are two of the best feelings a head coach can have, so this is a very rewarding day for our staff. We always knew when Major was playing that he was a student of the game and would be a terrific coach one day. He's living up to that. Major's an energetic, enthusiastic and intelligent young coach who has always been a tremendous leader. We think he can have a great impact on our guys, our program and in recruiting."
In Applewhite's one year at Alabama, the Crimson Tide bounced back from a losing season in 2006 to post a 7-6 record under first-year coach Nick Saban. Under his guidance, Alabama improved its offensive output by nearly 40 yards per game (335.9 to 373.8) and increased its scoring from 22.9 points per game to 27.1. His offense generated 256 yards passing and 388 total yards to cap the year with a 30-24 win over Colorado in the Independence Bowl.
"It's exciting to be a Longhorn again," Applewhite said. "The opportunity to come back to my alma mater, working with Coach Brown, Coach Davis and all the great coaches, many that I know and have worked with before, is special. Having the chance to be with all of them the last couple of days, to see their passion, to be a part of the expectations they've built and see how they're all on the same page and heading in the same direction is really exciting to be a part of. It's not just about being back in Austin, which is great because I love everything about this place, but the challenge Texas football presents, the familiarity I have with the program and Coach Brown's philosophy that I believe so strongly in. That's ultimately why this was an opportunity I couldn't turn down.
"I had the chance to play and start my coaching career here. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the group that helped build the foundation of what Coach Brown has developed into the winningest program in the nation over the last 10 years. The back-to-back BCS wins, the National Championship and seven straight 10-win seasons make Texas a really special place to be right now.
"Coach Brown's program is built on great coaching, great players and championship football. To be able to come back and contribute to that and try to accomplish the goals that we have for ourselves now is a challenge that really excites me."
In 2006, the Crimson Tide gained 510 yards of offense (363 passing/147 rushing) en route to a 41-17 victory over a Tennessee team that finished the year ranked 12th nationally. Trailing 20-10 in the fourth quarter against a Georgia team that finished the year ranked No. 2, Applewhite's offense scored 10 points in the final six minutes, including a 10-play, 88-yard drive that tied the game and sent it to overtime in an eventual 26-23 loss. Alabama registered 450 yards of offense (327 passing/123 rushing) in a 41-38 win over Arkansas.
"Alabama's a great place," Applewhite added. "As an athlete or anybody, you have goals and dreams, and one of mine growing up was to be a player or coach at The University of Alabama and I'm grateful for that opportunity. I can't thank Coach Saban and Coach (Mal) Moore (Alabama Athletic Director)enough for the chance they gave me. It's an honor to have worked for such a great coach, at such a special institution and in a great state like Alabama. The people of Tuscaloosa and Alabama were very good to me and my wife Julie. It will always be a memorable time in our lives. I learned so much and appreciate everything, but coming back to Texas was a dream come true, too."
Prior to Alabama, Applewhite spent a season as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Rice where, as the youngest coordinator in NCAA Division I, he directed an offense that scored the most points (350) and gained the third-most yards (4,486) in Owls' history. Under his guidance, Rice produced a 1,000-yard rusher, a 1,000-yard receiver and a 1,000-yard passer for the first time in school history en route to the program's first appearance in a bowl game since 1961. The 2006 Rice offense produced a 109-point improvement in scoring over the previous season. Before his stint at Rice, Applewhite joined former Longhorn Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson at Syracuse where he served as quarterbacks coach in 2005. Applewhite's coaching career began where he starred, at Texas, where he served as a graduate assistant coach and worked with the offensive line for two seasons (2003-04). In his final year in 2004, the Longhorns went 11-1, beat No. 12 Michigan in the Rose Bowl and earned a No. 4 final ranking -- it's highest since 1981. The Longhorns' team captain in 2001, Applewhite helped Texas to four straight bowl games (1999 and 2000 Cotton Bowls / 2000 and 2001 Holiday Bowls) and posted a 22-8 record as a starter. He capped his career by throwing for a UT record 473 yards and a Longhorn-bowl-game best four TDs en route to Offensive MVP honors in a 47-43 victory over No. 20 Washington in the 2001 Holiday Bowl. The 1999 co-Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year still holds UT records for career (8,353) and season (3,357/1999) passing yards, as well as career TD passes (60). He threw for 2,453 yards 18 TDs, UT freshman records at the time, in claiming Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors in 1998.
"Having two bright, talented young coaches who played and are now coaching at Texas in Major and Oscar Giles, is a great testament to the program," Brown added. "They're two guys who starred on the field, earned their degrees and now are a great example to the young guys on our team."
A native of Baton Rouge, La., Applewhite threw for 50 touchdowns and ran for eight more in two years as a starter at Catholic High School. He was tabbed an honorable mention prep all-America by USA Today after leading Catholic High to a 13-1 record and No. 10 national ranking as a senior. He was 25-2 as a starter. Applewhite completed his degree in sport management at Texas in December 2002. His wife, Julie, is also a UT graduate.