Texas Longhorns: Vince Young

Big 12 lunchtime links

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
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I don't know if there's a right answer to this question.

Our Big 12 Mount Rushmore

February, 19, 2014
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LeBron James controversially put, of all things, Mount Rushmore in the news last week by suggesting he would be etched in stone one day among the four best in NBA history.

The James story set off a firestorm of other sports-related Rushmores. NFL Rushmores. IndyCar Rushmores. One site even put together its Mount Rushmore of Pro Bass Fishermen.

Not to be outdone, Brandon and I have put together a Mount Rushmore of Big 12 football players.

For those who slept through social studies, the actual Mount Rushmore includes the likenesses of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The four were chosen not only because they were famous presidents. They were chosen because they were transformational figures in American history.

Washington won the Revolutionary War. Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln freed the slaves. Roosevelt changed American diplomacy.

In keeping with the spirit of the real Mount Rushmore, our Big 12 Rushmore wasn’t just about picking the four best players. It was about picking transformational figures whose impact was far-reaching. And it's just from the Big 12 era (1996-present).

Without further ado, the Big 12 football Mount Rushmore:

Texas QB Vince Young

[+] EnlargeVince Young
Scott Clarke/Getty ImagesVince Young led Texas to its first national championship in 35 years.
Before 2005, Texas was a great program. But it was not an elite one. It had been 35 years since the Longhorns had won a national championship. By contrast, Oklahoma had captured four national titles during that span. Even though coach Mack Brown had turned the Texas program around, the Sooners were still beating in the Longhorns’ heads on the field.

That all changed in 2005, thanks to one of the greatest individual seasons in college football history. Young put the Longhorns on his back, and took them all the way to Pasadena, Calif. The Longhorns destroyed everyone, including the Sooners, with Ohio State being the only regular-season opponent to play Texas within 10 points.

Young was even more spectacular in the national title game against USC. The mighty Trojans had no answer for Young, who threw for 267 yards and rushed for 200. And in the closing seconds on fourth down, he dashed past the pylon for the game-winning touchdown.

Young didn’t win the Heisman Trophy (he should have), but he became the first FBS quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in the same season. He also finally lifted Texas over the hump, taking the Longhorns from great to elite.

Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson

Just this month, Oklahoma signed one of the best running backs in the country in California native Joe Mixon. Who is Mixon’s idol? Peterson. Who knows how many recruits the Sooners were able to sign the last decade because of Peterson. The number is substantial.

Peterson arrived in 2004 as the Sooners’ most ballyhooed recruit since Marcus Dupree. Texas wanted Peterson badly. And Peterson actually watched the 2003 Red River Rivalry from the Texas sidelines. But even though Peterson dreamed of playing for the Longhorns growing up, he wanted to win more. Peterson’s signing with Oklahoma added insult to injury to its cross-river rival.

After getting to campus, Peterson put together one of the best freshman seasons ever. He rushed for 1,925 yards, leading the Sooners to the national title game. He also finished second in the Heisman voting, even though there was still a stigma against voting for freshmen.

The next two years of Peterson’s career were marred by injuries (even though he still finished with 4,041 career rushing yards). When healthy, he was the single-most dominant force in Big 12 history.

Baylor QB Robert Griffin III

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Sarah Glenn/Getty ImagesRobert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy and put Baylor back on the map.
Along with his coach Art Briles, Griffin changed the way people thought about Baylor football. He also changed the way Baylor football thought about itself. Before Griffin followed Briles to Waco in 2008, Baylor football was the laughingstock of the Big 12.

The Bears had not enjoyed a single winning season since before the inception of the league, and had lost 85 of 96 Big 12 games. The facilities were a mess and attendance was so poor, the school rolled a tarp over Floyd Casey Stadium's south end zone bleachers.

But by the time Griffin left, the program had been transformed. He brought the school its first Heisman Trophy and just its second 10-win season.

Griffin’s effect can still be felt in the Big 12. His magical season spurred Baylor to secure the funding for an on-campus, $260-million stadium that will open this fall. The Bears have also been a force ever since, both on the field and on the recruiting trail. In the last three months, Baylor captured its first Big 12 title, then nailed down a top-25 recruiting class. Until Griffin came along, that would have been unthinkable in Waco. It’s now the standard.

Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh

There have been some great defensive players to come through the Big 12. None come close to matching Suh, who was one of the most menacing defensive tackles to ever play college football.

In 2009, Suh captured the Outland, Nagurski and Bednarik national awards as the nation’s most outstanding lineman and defensive player. He also became the first defensive Heisman finalist since Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997.

Spearheaded by Suh, Nebraska also fielded perhaps the greatest defense in Big 12 history. Despite playing in an era of high-flying offenses, the Huskers gave up just 10.4 points per game, the fewest any defense has allowed in Big 12 history.

Facing off against the Big 12’s best offense in the Big 12 championship, Suh and the Huskers imposed their will, and came a controversial call away from toppling the Longhorns. Texas went on to the national championship game, and Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy still finished one spot higher in the Heisman voting than Suh. But in that game, like every other one he played in that season, Suh was the best player on the field.

Big 12 all-BCS-era team

January, 13, 2014
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After 16 years, the BCS era is finally over. Next season, college football will have a playoff instead.

With the BCS done, we've come up with our Big 12 all-BCS era team (1998-2013) below:

Offense

[+] EnlargeVince Young
Scott Clarke/Getty ImagesWith Vince Young at the helm, Texas won a national title and Rose Bowl.
QB: Vince Young, Texas (2003-05) -- Young led Texas to its first national title in 35 years with an unforgettable performance in the Rose Bowl against USC. The Heisman runner-up also became the first QB in college football history to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in the same season.

RB: Ricky Williams, Texas (1998) -- Williams was part of the BCS era for only one season, but what a season it was. He rushed for 2,327 yards and won the Heisman Trophy going away. Only Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne has more career rushing yards than Williams (6,279).

RB: Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma (2004-06) -- Despite battling injuries throughout his career, Peterson still was a beast in college. After rushing for 1,925 yards while leading the Sooners to the national title game, he finished second in the ’04 Heisman voting, even though there was still a stigma then in voting for a freshman.

WR: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech (2007-08) -- Crabtree became the first two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver. In '08, he and QB Graham Harrell led the Red Raiders to an upset of Texas and a No. 2 ranking in the polls.

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (2009-11) -- Blackmon became the second and only other two-time winner of the Biletnikoff. In his final two seasons, he finished with 233 receptions, 3,304 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns, and he helped propel the Cowboys to their first Big 12 title in '11.

TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri (2005-08) -- Coffman had a monster statistical college career for a tight end with 247 catches for 2,659 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns. He won the ’08 Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end. Missouri won 37 games during the four years Coffman was in the lineup.

OT: Jammal Brown, Oklahoma (2001-04) -- Brown was a unanimous All-American and a three-time All-Big 12 selection. He became the fifth Sooner to win the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top interior lineman.

OT: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State (2007-09) -- In Okung’s final two seasons, Oklahoma State led the Big 12 in rushing yards. The Cowboys were also third in the country in ’07 in fewest sacks allowed with Okung at left tackle. He was a unanimous All-American and Outland finalist in ’09 and became the sixth overall pick in the ’10 NFL draft.

OG: Cyril Richardson, Baylor (2010-13) -- Richardson became Baylor’s seventh all-time unanimous All-American. The Outland finalist was also a key piece on the nation’s highest-scoring offense this season.

OG: Justin Blalock, Texas (2003-06) -- Though a guard in the NFL, Blalock actually started 50 games for Texas, most coming at right tackle. He was a three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection and a consensus All-American in 2006.

C: Dominic Raiola, Nebraska (1998-2000) -- Raiola was the inaugural winner of the Rimington Award, named after former Nebraska center Dave Rimington, which recognizes the best center in college football. He was an Outland finalist and a consensus All-American.

APB: Darren Sproles, Kansas State (2001-04) -- One of the most prolific all-purpose performers in college football history, Sproles finished his career with 6,812 all-purpose yards. Among his 39 consecutive starts, his most memorable performance came in the ’03 Big 12 championship, when he had 235 yards rushing and 88 receiving, as K-State upset top-ranked Oklahoma 35-7.

Defense

DE: Brian Orakpo, Texas (2005-08) -- Orakpo captured the ’08 Nagurski Award as the most outstanding defensive player in the country, and the Lombardi Award, given to the best college lineman or linebacker. He also was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American while piling up 11 sacks his senior year.

DE: Von Miller, Texas A&M (2007-10) -- Out of a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role, Miller led the nation with 17 sacks in ’09. He was a two-time All-American and won the Butkus Award in ’10 as the nation’s top linebacker.

DT: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska (2005-09) -- There was no more dominant defensive player in college football during the BCS era. Suh finished fourth in the Heisman voting in ’09 and won several national awards, including the Outland, Lombardi, Nagurski (most outstanding defensive player)and Bednarik (defensive player of the year). He was also a unanimous All-American and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

DT: Tommie Harris, Oklahoma (2001-03) -- Harris was a force from the beginning as a freshman on the OU defensive line. He won the Lombardi his junior year, and he was a two-time consensus All-American, garnering unanimous honors in ’03.

LB: Derrick Johnson, Texas (2001-04) -- Johnson was a menacing linebacker for the Longhorns, earning consensus All-American honors in ’03 and unanimous honors in ’04. He was also a three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection, and won the Butkus (best linebacker) and Nagurski awards as a senior. Johnson finished his career with 458 tackles.

LB: Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma (1998-2001) -- Calmus played a major role in OU’s resurgence under Bob Stoops. He won the Butkus in ’01 and was a finalist for the Nagurski and Bednarik. A three-time All-Big 12 pick, Calmus led the Sooners in tackles in all three of those seasons.

LB: Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma (2000-03) -- Lehman too won the Butkus, beating out Johnson for the award in ’03. He also was Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, captured the Bednarik, was a unanimous All-American and played in two national championship games.

[+] EnlargeTavon Austin
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesWest Virginia receiver and returner Tavon Austin had a huge 2012 season.
CB: Terence Newman, Kansas State (1999-2002) -- Newman was a solid player for Bill Snyder his first three seasons, then broke out as a senior. Newman was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, a unanimous All-American and the Thorpe winner, given to college football’s top defensive back.

CB: Derrick Strait, Oklahoma (2000-03) -- A four-year starter, Strait finished with a school-record 52 career pass breakups. He also won the Thorpe, and was a unanimous All-American.

S: Roy Williams, Oklahoma (1999-2001) -- Nicknamed “Superman,” Williams was the Big 12’s most dominating defensive player until Suh came along. He won the Thorpe and Nagurski in ’01, and was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American the same season. He also famously skied over the Texas offensive line to force the game-clinching interception to earn his moniker.

S: Michael Huff, Texas (2002-05) -- Huff became the first Longhorn to win the Thorpe, and was the leader of the ’05 national championship defense. He was also a unanimous All-American that season.

Special teams

K: Mason Crosby, Colorado (2003-06) -- Crosby was three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection, and twice was a consensus All-American even though he never won the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top kicker. He was also the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year as a junior, and converted 66 field goals in his career.

P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State (2009-12) -- Sharp became the first three-time All-American in Oklahoma State history, and he earned All-American honors both as a punter and a kicker. He was twice named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year. In his career, he made 50 of 59 field goals, averaged 45.9 yards per punt and missed only one extra point.

KR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia (2012) -- Austin was in the Big 12 only one season, but he was unstoppable that one season. On top of being one of the most dangerous kick returners in the country, Austin had 1,289 yards receiving and 643 rushing, and finished second in the country in all-purpose yards.

PR: Ryan Broyles Oklahoma (2008-11) -- On top of being a prolific punt returner, Broyles was one of the most efficient receivers in college football history. He finished his career with an FBS-record 349 receptions, and was a two-time consensus All-American before a knee injury cut his senior season short.

Texas recruits react to Mack Brown news 

December, 14, 2013
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The inevitable is now a reality. At the start of 2014, Mack Brown will no longer be the head coach of the Texas Longhorns.

After a week of drama within the Forty Acres that would make some soap operas jealous, one of college football's most interesting stories was stamped with an ending. Texas announced Saturday that Brown will resign following the Longhorns game against Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30. Per the Longhorn Network, Brown already has informed the team of his incoming resignation.

For college football recruits, Brown's news means a completely new era of Texas football. Many of the prospects committed to Brown's program were mere toddlers when he left North Carolina to take over at Texas in 1998. The majority of 2014 commits were born in 1995 or 1996.

What will Brown's departure mean? For some of the 23 commits, consider it a wait-and-see process. For most of them, consider it a new chapter -- one they're looking forward to.

One thing's for certain: The recruits were big fans of Brown not only as a coach but as a person.

Season Deciders: QB David Ash

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
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David AshAP Photo/Reed HoffmannWhen David Ash struggled last season, like against Kansas, it was a matter of confidence and trust.
This is the fifth of a five-part series on Texas players with the potential to change the course of the Longhorns' 2013 season. The No. 1 player on this year's list: Junior quarterback David Ash.

AUSTIN, Texas -- There is no statistic or number that can capture what’s going to be different about David Ash this season.

We’ve flooded you with data about why four Longhorns -- Jordan Hicks, Johnathan Gray, Mike Davis and Jackson Jeffcoat -- have the potential to change everything for the Longhorns this year. With Ash, it’s just a different story.

We’ve spent most of this offseason wrestling with the season Ash had in 2012 and what it portends for his future. Maybe he’s on track to be a great quarterback, or maybe above average is all that can be expected. Pretty arbitrary stuff, all in all.

His best performances of 2012 were some of the finest Texas has seen since Colt McCoy left. His worst ones are the reason why he isn’t the preseason All-Big 12 QB or more respected nationally.

We can talk ourselves into a few narratives about Ash and his first two seasons in burnt orange.

You can choose to believe that he’ll be better in 2013 simply because he’s older and wiser. Or because a tempo offense suits him better. Or because he did some special things in the second half of the Alamo Bowl.

But this just might be the biggest difference, and the reason no stat can really tell us what’s coming next: Trust.

It’s hard to understand the predicament Ash faced last year. He wasn’t named the starter until late in fall camp. He eventually beat out Case McCoy, who’s popular among Texas players and has been in the program longer.

Did Ash look over his shoulder throughout the 2012 season? Some believe that to be the case, though in truth just three of his starts -- against Oklahoma, Kansas and TCU -- merited a potential benching in favor of McCoy.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesMack Brown might have wavered just a bit last November, but he's firmly behind David Ash now.
No doubt, McCoy’s comeback victory in Lawrence raised questions. So did Ash’s regrettable decision to keep playing through injury against TCU. The week after that game, coach Mack Brown was unmistakably noncommittal when asked if Ash was his quarterback of the future.

“I see David being a good player in the future,” Brown said back on Nov. 26.

Nine months later, Texas is all-in on Ash. This offseason was devoid of quarterback controversy. He spent the spring and summer building confidence and earning the faith of his fellow Longhorns.

He dedicated himself to improving as a leader, but he cared about being authentic. He’s never going to be the rah-rah guy. But working harder never hurts, so he took steps like getting up early to join his offensive linemen for their morning running.

“That’s something Vince Young told me: You want to be visible,” Ash said. “You don’t have to be anybody you’re not, but you have to be seen.”

The head coach has his back, too. Brown believes this: If David Ash stays healthy, Texas is going to have a big season.

For most of last season, if you asked Texas players what kind of leader Ash is, they were honest. He was coming along, finding his style. A work in progress. These days, they aren’t hedging.

“Ash has picked it up,” wide receiver Mike Davis said. “Very poised, great leader. He’s doing everything an elite quarterback is supposed to be doing right now. We’ll just follow him, and he’ll take us down the glory road.”

And when it comes to Ash, a compliment like that just might tell you more than any statistic can.

The Big 12 "Junior Jump" is real. Just look at the numbers.

Justin Ray of ESPN Stats & Info took a look today at the trend of Big 12 passers making a statistical jump from sophomore year to junior year. For many of the league's recent big-name quarterbacks, the results were impressive. Check it out.

Eight of them -- including Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy and Chase Daniel -- put up higher completion percentages and passing yards in year three, and six threw for more touchdowns.

David Ash appears poised to join that rather elite class of quarterbacks. Like the rest of them, he put up a passer efficiency rating of 130.00 or better in his second year, and Ray believes if the trend holds true Ash could be on pace for more than 3,000 passing yards and a 71.2 completion percentage.

The best indicators for hope are what McCoy and Vince Young did as juniors. Young raised his passing yardage 1,187 yards, threw 14 more touchdowns and improved his passer rating 35.5 points in his third year. Of course, he also won a national championship.

McCoy's numbers didn't improve at such a dramatic clip from a yardage standpoint, but his completions went up 11.6 percent, he threw 12 more touchdowns and 10 fewer interceptions and raised his passer rating a similar 34.6 points.

And he ended that 2008 season with a victory in the Fiesta Bowl. If Ash can lead this team back to Tempe, Texas would be just fine with that -- no matter what stats he puts up.

Video: Brown talks VY's signing

August, 6, 2013
8/06/13
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Mack Brown talks about former Texas QB Vince Young and his recent signing with the Green Bay Packers.

HornsNation mailbag: Toughest game 

July, 12, 2013
7/12/13
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Every Friday, HornsNation's Sean Adams will answer questions from readers. Send him a question on Twitter here.

Kendall Lewis (@LeweeVuitton) on Twitter: Which game will be tougher: Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor or the Red River Rivalry?

A: Every single game you list is going to be a bear for Texas. The Red River Rivalry is a lot more of a mental hurdle than a football hurdle in 2013. TCU is the best team that Texas has on its schedule. It has 19 starters returning when you include the return of Casey Pachall and Waymon James. The Horned Frogs are always well coached, and they get Texas at home.

Andrew Hughes (@AndrewH91) on Twitter: What will it take for Texas to reach a BCS bowl this year, specifically, how to beat OU?

A: Texas just has to tackle on defense and not turn the ball over on offense. For as much bad conversation as you will hear about Texas, the Longhorns don’t have as big a mountain to climb as most people think. Quarterback David Ash does not have to be great for Texas to be good. The defense does not have to be great for Texas to be good. Texas will be better on both lines. I know that is a big statement when it lost a dominant player in Alex Okafor, but I believe it to be true.

The schedule sets up perfectly for the Longhorns with nine days off before Oklahoma, a full off week before TCU and nine days off before ending the regular season at Baylor. Oklahoma State is the toughest game that has to be played in a regular-week format, and Texas gets the Cowboys at home.

Chris Bennett (@Chrisgb00) on Twitter: Which players were you disappointed you didn't get to draft to your all-time Texas team?

A: I really wanted to get Derrick Johnson. I knew Texas was short at the linebacker position, but Lowell Galindo gave me no shot to get one of the top two linebackers because he picked twice before I got my second pick. I thought I would be able to get Tommy Nobis or Johnson, but they were gone.

I really wanted Vince Young, and thought I had no shot to get him but as luck would have it, I did. I also wanted to get personal friends of mine in Dan Neil and Britt Hager that I respected so much as players.

John (@johnjohndyer) on Twitter: Is M.J. McFarland looking like he could be a star, or are we still searching for a TE?

A: From everything that I have heard, he is a beast in the weight room and has put himself in a position to be a big-time contributor. If he is not a star it might not be his fault. He might be a blocking part of the offensive line. There is star power at wide receiver as well. There are several impact players on the offense. There is a big role for him to play and if he does, he can get in the mix for all-conference honors.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Now that the picks in the inaugural all-time Texas draft are in, it is time to pick a few nits. And maybe a few superlatives as well. Here is the good and the bad of the draft.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Johnson
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesLinebacker Derrick Johnson was drafted with the first pick of the second round in our #HornsNationDraft.
Best pick: Steve Worster, fullback, 1968-70: Sure there were a lot of players picked before Worster. In fact, he went in the last round. And it is that fact, plus his obvious skill and accomplishments while at Texas, that makes him the best pick of this draft. Worster was an integral piece of the wishbone offense under Darrell Royal. He rushed for 2,353 yards at Texas and was part of back-to-back national title teams. For Worster to last as long as he did was a shock and a nod to the fact that fullback is a position many overlook these days. Galindo, whose team was built on defense and line play, picked up a valuable asset who fits the dynamic of his team when he snagged Worster in round 24.

Most underrated pick: Doug English. The defensive tackle had 260 career tackles (111 solo), was a two-time all-conference player, a first-team All-American in 1974 and is a member of the College Football Hall of fame. Somehow he slipped to the 18th round of a 24-round draft.

Biggest reach: Kwame Cavil. Texas has not been a school blessed with wide receivers, but for Cavil to be the third receiver picked, after Jordan Shipley and Roy Williams, is a stretch. Mike Adams, Quan Cosby and B.J. Johnson had more career receiving yards. And current Longhorn Mike Davis may very well, too, by the end of his career. Plus, Cavil is not in the top 10 in career touchdowns for a receiver.

Toughest position to pick: Wide receiver. Texas simply has not produced much talent at this position. Behind Williams and Shipley it can be a crapshoot when selecting this group. Mike Davis, a current receiver who has had his ups and downs, is actually sixth on the all-time yardage list for receivers. That is how shallow the pool is for receivers at Texas.

Best offensive team: Strickland. Colt McCoy to Jordan Shipley might be enough. It was the most prolific quarterback to receiver combination in the history of Texas and one of the most prolific in college football history. Add in Jermichael Finley who had 76 receptions over a two-year period, more than any Texas tight end, and Alfred Jackson, who averaged 19 yards per catch during the Earl Campbell years, and it makes for the most explosive offense of the four.

Best defensive team: Galindo. It was clear from the start Galindo was going to pick the best Texas players from the weakest positions, which is why, saddled with the last pick of the first round and the first pick of the second, Galindo went with linebackers Tommy Nobis and Derrick Johnson. Add in Brian Orakpo as his third pick and Tony Brackens as the fourth, and this was a team built around defense first.

Team that would win four-team playoff: Adams. Any of the teams can be picked apart, but Adams has a solid balance of offensive firepower and the strongest secondary of the four. Vince Young and Earl Campbell can do a lot of damage to any defense. Shon Mitchell was a flash-in-the-pan back but was productive in the 1995-96 seasons. Add in Johnathan Gray and Adams’ team has the ground game covered. His team is slightly weak in the passing game -- make that very weak -- but in a four-team playoff, controlling the ball and stopping the other team from making explosive plays will win out.

Best lines: Dunn. There were a lot of linemen to go around, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Dunn was bale to pick up maybe the best two Texas linemen early with Bob McKay and Jerry Sisemore. He followed that up with Bill Atessis at defensive tackle, completing a run in which three of his first five picks were used to build the lines. Dunn grabbed Doug English in the 18th round. The only real reach on either line was Roger Roesler, a third team All-American in 1999, but that didn’t come until the 22nd round.

Best backfield: Dunn. Earl Campbell and Jamaal Charles were two of the most prolific backs to play at Texas. Add in Bobby Layne at the quarterback position and it makes for the most complete and sturdy backfield in this year’s draft.
AUSTIN, Texas -- When it came to David Ash, Malcolm Brown's answer was no different than any other Texas player has given over the past several years when the quarterback question has come up.

"Like Mike Davis said, he has a swagger about him now," the running back said of the quarterback.

Only now it might be time to believe in the rising junior. Not because of some huge personality shift in Ash, but because this time –-- the junior season following a multi-year starter's sophomore season -- is typically when said actions start to speak louder than words.

Looking back at eight Big 12 multi-year starting quarterbacks -- Texas’ Colt McCoy, Texas’ Vince Young, Missouri’s Chase Daniel, Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell, Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Kansas’ Todd Reesing -- all but one had a dramatic leap in every statistical category from their sophomore to junior years. (Jones was the exception. In the six categories measured, he only increased his stats in one category, average yards per game.)

So the odds are Ash, who started 12 games in 2012, should follow suit. Maybe not to the extreme of Young, who topped the other seven aforementioned quarterbacks when it came to overall production increase. But there should at least be a measure of improvement to Ash’s stats. How much is up for debate for the next several months.

But if he follows the statistical average presented by those eight quarterbacks who have gone before him, Ash could see his passing efficiency rating rise by 17.10 points, completion percentage by 5 percent, touchdowns by 5.8, interceptions shrink by a nominal 0.25, overall yards move up 581.8 and yards per game to increase by 45.6.

Of course, there are mitigating factors that could shape whether or not Ash has a rise or fall in his stats in 2013.

One of which is that Ash already experienced a dramatic rise in his stats from 2011 to 2012. In his sophomore season, Ash finished in the top 25 in passer efficiency rating and increased that rating 45.9 points. He had 15 more touchdown passes as a sophomore, threw for 1,620 yards and completed 10.4 percent more of his passes. (He also had 144 more attempts as a sophomore than as a freshman.) The point being that quite possibly a ceiling, if not already hit, is at least within arm’s length.

A counter argument could be that a shift in offensive philosophy, from traditional sets to spread, should serve to bolster his stats. In addition, the Big 12’s defenses -- at least that of the top teams Oklahoma and Kansas State -- have experienced huge losses on their side of the ball. Add that fact to the unavoidable truth that the Big 12 is not exactly chock full of top defenses -- only TCU and Texas Tech finished in the top 40 in total defense in 2012 -- and it sets up for Ash to have at least a nominal rise in his statistical production in his junior season.

If all that is not enough to make a decision, there are still the words of Ash’s teammates to go by as well:

"Now that he has it down, he’s a lot more comfortable," Brown said. "He’s loosened up with us and he talks more now because he knows what he’s doing."

Given that this is Ash’s junior year and that history is on his side, it might just be time to believe those words.

Video: Vince Young moving forward

April, 17, 2013
4/17/13
3:45
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Quarterback Vince Young discusses his past off-the-field incidents, his tenure with the Titans, his relationship with former coach Jeff Fisher and his NFL future.

Video: QB Vince Young on First Take

April, 4, 2013
4/04/13
3:15
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QB Vince Young discusses his past off-the-field incidents, his tenure with the Titans, his relationship with former coach Jeff Fisher and his NFL future.

Video: Vince Young's NFL future

March, 29, 2013
3/29/13
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Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith and Herm Edwards discuss whether or not an NFL team should give QB Vince Young another chance.

Video: Vince Young at Texas pro day

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
10:30
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Longhorn Network's Lowell Galindo, Texas-Ex Ricky Williams and former Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson offer analysis on Vince Young's workout at Texas pro day.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Vince Young, who is trying to catch on with the NFL’s read-option fad and resurrect his career, didn’t run Tuesday as part of his workout at Texas’ pro day.

Come to think of it, the former Longhorns quarterback did run -- right away from the media.

[+] EnlargeVince Young
AP Photo/Eric GayFormer Texas quarterback Vince Young, who worked out for scouts in Austin on Tuesday, last played in the NFL in 2011.
“I’m going to talk all of next week,” Young said as he pushed his way out of Texas’ indoor practice facility surrounded by media from Houston, Dallas, Austin and the NFL Network.

Instead, Young, on a day he wanted to show he was ready to be back in a professional league that leverages marketing and media better than any other, had someone talk for him. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

“He’s grown up and matured so much,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “He’s at a different stage of his life.”

Young is about to exit stage left from football if it doesn’t work this time.

“All I hope is that if someone gives him a chance, and I think they should, is that he understands that this is the last hurrah,” said Gil Brandt, the longtime Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel who now works for NFL Network. “He has to do and say and outwork everybody.”

As for the work Young put in Tuesday, he threw the ball 50 to 60 times. Most were good. A few were behind. A few were too tall. But all were to receivers with no NFL catches. It might have made sense -- given that this, as Brandt said, is Young’s last shot -- to bring in an NFL wide receiver. After all, if you’re taking your last lap around life you want to do it in a Porsche.

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