Texas quarterback declares for draft

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Aug 17, 2005

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas quarterback Vince Young is headed to the NFL.

Young, who led Texas to its first national championship in 36 years, announced Sunday he would make himself eligible for the NFL draft.

"I thank God for the opportunity to be in this position," Young said at a news conference. "Hard work has paid off a whole lot."

Young, who led the Longhorns to a 41-38 Rose Bowl victory over top-ranked Southern California on Wednesday, could have returned to Texas for his senior season and would have been a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

The versatile quarterback accounted for 467 yards against USC -- 200 running and 267 passing -- and ran 8 yards for the winning touchdown with 19 seconds left.

"After that performance in the Rose Bowl, I think we all kind of knew which way he was going to go," his godmother, Yolanda Lezine, told the Dallas Morning News.

Young thanked many people, including his family and coach Mack Brown, who could not attend Sunday's news conference because of a schedule conflict. He specifically thanked Brown for "helping me become a better man."

Young ends his career at Texas with a 30-2 record -- the best in school history.

His stellar performance in the Rose Bowl increased speculation that he would leave school early and also started a debate about whether he would be the No. 1 pick in April's draft.

Team and league sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that the Houston Texans will pass on Young, a Houston native, and select USC running back Reggie Bush with the No. 1 pick in the draft, pending the formality of Bush announcing that he will turn pro.

Almost nothing will change that course, the sources told Mortensen.

The Texans will pick up an $8 million option on quarterback David Carr, who was the expansion team's first draft pick four years ago. Texans owner Bob McNair made the decision after getting extensive evaluations from various sources that strongly endorsed Carr, including a favorable report from Dan Reeves, the former longtime NFL coach hired last month as a consultant.

USC's Matt Leinart, who could have been the first pick a year ago had he turned pro after his junior season, still remains the consensus top quarterback in the NFL draft. For Leinart, he is likely to be the choice of the New Orleans Saints at No. 2 with Young projected to the Tennessee Titans at No. 3.

Steve McNair, who has been mentoring Young, including a visit to watch the Rose Bowl, will be lobbying the Titans to select Young with the third pick, Mortensen reported. Of course, McNair has to re-sign with the Titans for that to happen.

Young is Texas' all-time leader in total offense (9,167 yards), career touchdowns (81) and career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (37).

This season, Young became the only player in NCAA history to pass for 3,000 yards (3,036) and rush for 1,000 (1,050) in one season. His 4,086 total yards set a school single-season record.

Young won the Davey O'Brien Award for the nation's best quarterback and the Maxwell Award for the top college football player, but came in second behind USC running back Reggie Bush in the Heisman voting.

Though he's leaving a year early, Young emphasized his bond with Texas, saying, "I'll forever be a Longhorn."