NEW YORK -- Vince Young looks as if he'll make the NFL his
personal playground, too.
The dynamic quarterback for the Tennessee Titans won The
Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year Award on Wednesday.
He did it in the same fashion he turned around the Titans' season --
running away from the rest of the field.
Young, who led Texas to the 2005 national championship and was
the third overall pick in last April's draft, overwhelmed one of
the strongest rookie classes in NFL history. He received 23 votes
from a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who
cover the league.
That easily beat New Orleans wide receiver Marques Colston and
Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who had nine apiece; San
Diego tackle Marcus McNeill (6); and Saints running back Reggie Bush (3).
Running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams of Tampa Bay won the
award last year. Young is the third member of the Tennessee-Houston
franchise to take top rookie honors: Earl Campbell in 1978 and
Eddie George in 1996 did it for the Houston Oilers.
Young was the catalyst in Tennessee's rally from 0-5 to 8-8, at
times looking as unstoppable for the Titans as he did with the
Longhorns. A starter from Week 4, Young sprinkled all kinds of
spectacular big plays with a growing maturity in joining Ben Roethlisberger (2004) as the only quarterbacks to win top rookie
honors in the 49-year history of the award.
He became the first rookie quarterback to rush for more than 500
yards in the Super Bowl era, and his passing skills improved all
year under coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Norm Chow.
"I like to go out there and play the game and show that I can
deliver the ball down the field, and that I can use my legs at the
right time, when it's time to use my legs, and checking the ball
down, just being a quarterback," Young said. "I want to change
the game a little bit."
He's already helped change the perception of what a first-year
quarterback can do given playing time. Young sat and learned for
barely a month while Kerry Collins started and the Titans
struggled. Then Fisher turned to the youngster well before he'd
And Young delivered as the Titans threatened to become the first
team to lose its opening five games and then make the playoffs.
They were in contention until the final weekend, thanks greatly to
a six-game winning streak that included a remarkable comeback from
21-0 down in the final 10 minutes to beat the Giants.
"He was very prepared when he got here because of the
experience he had in college," said Fisher, who along with
Tennessee's scouts and general manager Floyd Reese chose Young over
Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler in the draft. "We knew that he had a
chance to improve and obviously that's why we went ahead and
started him when we did. We felt like he was ready."
Chow, who worked with Heisman Trophy winners Leinart and Carson
Palmer at Southern California, is considered one of the finest
teachers of quarterbacks in the business. What does he like most
about Young, who left Texas after his junior season?
"Besides the physical skills, it's the will and the strength
inside, the 'it' factor that a quarterback either has or doesn't
have," Chow said. "Obviously, he has it. The quickness in which
he won the team over and the quickness in which he became the
leader, the guy everybody looked up to, that was special.
"Vince Young has this great ability to lift others around him.
To see him do it so quickly, that wasn't a surprise, but it was
certainly good to see."
Perhaps Young's finest moment was a 39-yard TD run in overtime
to beat Houston, his hometown team that bypassed the Lone Star
State hero to take defensive end Mario Williams atop the draft.
There seemed to be as many Titans No. 10 jerseys in Reliant Stadium
as any Texans shirts.
"It was a great ending," Young said. "Being from Houston and
being in front of my family and the fans that respect me as a
player and a person, as well, it can't get any better than that."