"I basically taught myself to throw," says Young. "Look around-- Brett Favre's arm is on another level, and he doesn't throw from the same angle all the time. I'm just trying to get the ball to the receiver."
There's evidence that he's getting better. After completing 56% of his passes for 971 yards over the first eight games of last season, Young hit on 64% for 878 yards over the last four games. He has ramped up his study of game tape and is focused on improving his footwork and timing. "Velocity is not a problem," says McNair, who works with Young several weeks each year. "It's just a matter of Vince bringing the mental part of the game up to the level of the physical part."
Even as Young becomes a more mature quarterback--"When he was a redshirt freshman, he called plays without confidence," says senior tight end David Thomas--he holds on to the energy that makes playing the position fun, talking harmless trash at opponents and seeking out a big hit early in the game to engage himself. Away from the field he shares an apartment with Selvin Young (no relation). They have PS2 and Xbox consoles at opposite ends of their living room, and when they're finished with those battles they often double up on workouts, first on campus and then in the evening at a health club.
The season is full of promise for Texas, which this year is seeking its first win over Oklahoma since 1999, its first Big 12 title since '96 and its first national championship since President Nixon anointed the Longhorns No. 1 after they beat Arkansas 15--14 in a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup in Fayetteville in December 1969. More than anyone else, Young will determine whether any of that happens. So he stays late on the practice field, fulfilling his passion and chasing after Texas's birthright. As teammates start walking to their cars, Young is left with only a half-dozen stragglers to work on pass plays. When somebody shuts off the light towers, there's only the quarterback's voice, calling signals and shouting instructions in the dark.