Vince Young on graduation: Better than winning a national title

Buffalo Bills quarterback Vince Young addresses the media during a press conference at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Vince Young says heading back to school to get his degree was the best thing he did at Texas. (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Vince Young led the Texas Longhorns to one of the most epic, edge-of-your-seat national championship wins in college football history.

For most people, that would be considered a crowning achievement of a lifetime, however, Vince Young is apparently not “most people.” Young said what he earned following the Horns’ spring semester is something far more gratifying: His diploma.

“This will rank No. 1 because it is what I came to school for,” Young told Thursday after his workout session in the Longhorns weight room. “I came here to get an education, and to win a national championship. And now, I get to put that smile on my mom’s face.”

Young finally earns his degree in Youth and Community Studies. It comes following an NFL career that started hot with an AFC Rookie of the Year award in 2006 with Tennessee, but fizzled out with Buffalo in August of 2012.

His decision to take on a full course load was made as Young got himself in shape for a potential pro comeback. He worked out for teams during Texas’ pro day and reportedly looked like his old self.

“I’ve been doing this 31 years and guys (who leave college without their degrees) always say they’ll come back, but he had more of a plan,” said Brian Davis, UT’s associate athletics director for Academic Services. “He said, ‘My mom and I talked. This is important to me. This is important to her. I need to finish this part of my life sooner than later if we can.’ And he did finish his semester like he was coming back. You have guys that (when they’re done playing college football) who just kind of mail it in. Guys that finish strong when they don’t have to is an indication that they are very likely to return.

“I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Young is feeling pretty proud as well. Proud to represent his family.

“I’m about to be the first in my family to graduate,” he said. “Just finishing what I started. That’s why I’m trying to get back in the NFL. To finish what I started. That is the type of guy I am. I do work hard — even when the times are good or bad. That’s just how I was raised.

“My mom used to be strung out on drugs. The one thing she used to always be able to do, was be in the house to go to work the next morning. I don’t know how she got up after she was doing the things she was doing, but she used to be right there making sure we were getting ready for school and she was going to work. I saw that.

“I tell her to this day, ‘Ma, you’re a strong woman.’ She was coming in after being out all night and then she’d pick up my grandma after she did a graveyard shift, where she’d go in at 11 p.m. and be done at 7 a.m. And when (my mom) got cleaned up, that was something I always saw in my mom and my grandmother was that strength to take care of the family and do whatever they had to do. Just finish what you started. That’s where I got my fire and my push and to be happy what life gives you.”

From the sounds of it, life has given Young something really special.

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