Who is the greatest recruit for Texas football in the 21st century?
There is no doubt who the best recruit in Texas football is since 2000.
It is undoubtedly the greatest quarterback in program history, Vince Young. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, the dual-threat quarterback from Houston was the No. 1 player in the 2002 recruiting class. The Madison High School (Houston) standout had seven formal offers but only made one official visit. He visited Austin on Jan. 11, 2002, committing two days later. Young enrolled on June 30, 2002.
Though programs like the Arkansas Razorbacks, Florida State Seminoles, Kansas State Wildcats, LSU Tigers, Miami Hurricanes and Southern Miss Golden Eagles all had an interest, they really had no chance to keep the No. 1 player in the country from staying in-state to play his college ball for Mack Brown in Austin.
Vince Young is the greatest recruit in the history of Texas football.
Despite being the No. 1 player in the country, Young redshirted his freshman year with the Texas Longhorns in 2002. He wasn’t going to get much playing time anyway as a true freshman as Chris Simms was in his senior season as the Longhorns quarterback. By Young’s redshirt freshman year, he climbed all the way to the top of the depth chart to start mid-season.
Initially, Young was No. 2 on the quarterback pecking order behind Chance Mock. In 12 games in 2003, Young completed 58.7 percent of his passes for 1,155 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions. Though those passing statistics are nothing to write home about, Young made his hay as a runner with 135 carries for 998 yards and 11 trips to pay dirt.
Young won Big 12 Freshman of the Year, as he cemented his status as the Texas starting quarterback going forward. During his redshirt sophomore season in 2004, Young continued to flourish. Texas began to cater the offense more around his skill set as a dual-threat playmaker, opting to move out from under center and in the I-formation to more of a spread look in the shotgun.
This allowed Young to completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 1,849 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also ran the ball 167 times for 1,079 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. Young added a 48-yard reception in there for good measure. Texas went 12-1 that year, beating the Michigan Wolverines in the Rose Bowl. Young had officially arrived on the college landscape.
2005 is when Young became a college football legend. The Longhorns went 11-0 in the regular season, staying at No. 2 in the AP Poll for all but one week during the campaign. Texas slaughtered the Colorado Buffaloes in the Big 12 Championship game, punching their ticket to face the powerhouse USC Trojans in the BCS National Championship game over in Pasadena.
USC had a 34-game winning streak going, as running back Reggie Bush edged out Young for the Heisman Trophy. Still, Young only had two career losses on his Texas resume, feeling his team had every shot of upending the Trojans in the Rose Bowl. What we saw in the 2005 National Championship game will go down as the greatest college football game of all time.
Young played the game of his life, as he amasses 467 yards from scrimmage (267 passing, 200 rushing). While he didn’t complete an aerial strike for six, Young still completed 75 percent of his throws against the perceived best team in the country. He also found pay dirt himself by running it in three times. Texas proved victorious in the greatest game of our lives to win it all, 41-38.
Young left Austin after his redshirt junior season. He completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 6,040 yards, 44 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. Young won 93.8 percent of his starts, which has him sixth all-time in Division I history. He took home seemingly every major quarterback award in 2005 and still holds many records in the history of Texas football and is a recent inductee in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Young went on to be the No. 3 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans, where he spent the first five of nine NFL seasons. Initially, he was a huge hit in Nashville, as he made his first of two career trips to the Pro Bowl and was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2006. However, friction with head coach Jeff Fisher and so many inconsistencies led to his downfall.
After two solid years to begin his career, Young suffered a knee injury in 2008. Fisher decided to go with his backup Kerry Collins the rest of the way, as the Titans went 13-3 and earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Young bounced back to make his second Pro Bowl nod in 2009, earning NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Then in 2010, that’s when everything fell apart for him.
Young went 4-5 as a starter in the first nine games of the 2010 campaign. He tore a tendon in his right thumb and was held out of the game. An altercation with Fisher in the locker room after the game for not letting him go back in there eventually led to late Titans owner Bud Adams saying Young wouldn’t be part of the Titans’ team in 2011-12. Young was released on July 28, 2011.
For the next four years, Young bounced around the NFL with four different franchises, including the infamous 2011 Philadelphia Eagles “Dream Team”. By 2015, he was out of the league. Though he had his No. 10 jersey retired by Texas and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, Young’s NFL career was fascinating but ultimately disappointing.
Don’t let anybody tell you anybody was a better Texas football recruit than Young, though.