Young: Graduation better than title

Vince Young has had his share of ups and downs since winning an NCAA championship at Texas in 2005, becoming a rookie sensation in the NFL, then a tempermental QB, then an out-of-work one.

Now he’s on top again, having graduated from Texas, and he calls it an even greater high than beating USC in the BCS Championship Game.

“This will rank No. 1 because it is what I came to school for,” Young told CBSSports.com this week after earning a degree in Youth and Community Studies this spring. “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, the 2006 AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year, played several years with the Tennessee Titans before short stints with Philadelphia and Buffalo. He’s been out of the league since the Bills released him in 2012, but worked out for teams during Texas’ pro day.

“I’m about to be the first in my family to graduate. Just finishing what I started," he told CBS. "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 with what life gives you.”

Young was 30-plus credit hours short of a degree when he declared for the draft. He began returning to Austin for classes in the offseason early in his career, but he only recently fulfilled all of his requirements. He walked with the rest of the 2013 graduating class on Friday morning, one day before his 30th birthday.

“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.”