Posted August 24th, 2017
The Texas football program dates back to 1893. Each day, we look at a little piece of Longhorn history. We’re starting by looking at each Longhorn football season.
In February of 2005, Texas was coming off several recruiting classes that were void of a quarterback. With Vince Young becoming a part-time starter as a freshman and taking over the job full-time as a sophomore, quarterback wasn’t a dire need and it’s difficult to recruit high-level quarterbacks when the former No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation becomes a starter as a freshman.
With Young entering his junior year, Mack Brown made quarterback a priority for the 2005 class. Texas had watched in-state quarterbacks like Rhett Bomar and Kirby Freeman pick out-of-state schools the previous years so Brown also went out of state on the trail.
Texas targeted one of the nation’s best high school quarterbacks, a Louisiana product named Ryan Perrilloux, who had a similar athletic skill set as Young and would get to shadow Young as a freshman or redshirt. Perrilloux committed to Texas. But on national signing day, Perrilloux surprised some and picked LSU, which he had visited recently and was less than an hour from where he lived.
Brown’s recruiting class was ranked between No. 12 to No. 20 by various recruiting websites and the coach even joked to Statesman reporter Suzzane Halliburton, “I’ve gone from Mr. February to ‘can’t recruit’ in three or four years here.”
Quarterback position in the 2005 class was not viewed as a loaded position in the state of Texas. But Texas did manage to grab one quarterback. The No. 53-ranked player in the Statesman Fab 55 — a kid from a small school in West Texas, Jim Ned.
That kid was Colt McCoy.
For the record, the 2005 class wound up being pretty special. McCoy joined Jamaal Charles, Jermichael Finley, Aaron Lewis, Chris Hall, Henry Melton, Roy Miller and Roddrick Muckleroy — just to name part of the class.
The next crop of recruits, Texas landed four-star quarterback recruit Jevan Snead of Stephenville. Snead was a Parade All-American and was graduating early and enrolling in the spring to compete for the starting job.
Here’s what Halliburton wrote on Feb. 2, 2006– National Signing Day– of Snead:
With All-American Vince Young leaving for the NFL draft, the most important prospect of the class likely is Snead, the Parade All-American who will be competing for a starting spot with redshirt freshman Colt McCoy. Coincidentally, Snead proved to be the most difficult prospect to land, since up until mid-November, he was committed to Florida.
“I think it’s their most complete class (under Brown) if for no other reason than they met all their needs, ” said Geoff Ketchum, a state recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “The moment they got Jevan Snead, it became a complete class.”
Bohls declared that “Mack was back” in terms of recruiting. The No. 6 recruiting class in the nation, coming off a national championship season and now there was a quarterback of the future on the roster.
In March, when spring ball began, it was clear the quarterback competition was between Snead and McCoy, and Bohls wrote:
McCoy has been described by some in the football offices as “Major Applewhite with athletic ability, ” a super-bright guy who is a very accurate passer with good anticipation. Snead has the better arm and a competitive streak that jumped out at Southlake Carroll coaching genius Todd Dodge at the U.S. Army All-American Game.
McCoy won the starting job over Snead, but like a lot of Brown-quarterback situations, it wasn’t that secure of a hold on the job.
The Longhorns as a whole, though, were ranked No. 3 in the nation in the preseason poll, so whoever was winning the job was getting a loaded roster.
Statesman sports writer Kevin Robbins profiled both quarterbacks that August to give more insight on who the two new quarterbacks were.
McCoy finished the summer scrimmage rounds interception-free and Brown said “Colt deserves the right to start.”
Many of his teammates agreed.
“Colt’s done everything asked of him, ” Texas tailback Selvin Young told reporters. “I feel like it’s a great decision by coach.”
What happened next is the single greatest freshman quarterbacking season in Texas history. It was so good that Snead eventually transferred. And Ryan Perrilloux from the year before? He didn’t pan out as a quarterback and changed positions at LSU.
McCoy, thought by some to just be a “placeholder quarterback” between Young and Snead, wound up breaking and setting almost every passing record in Texas football history and setting the all-time record for most wins in NCAA history for a quarterback.
McCoy finished his freshman season with 2,570 yards, 29 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in 318 attempts. Until offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert brought his Art Briles air attack to Texas in 2016, which led Shane Buechele to throw for 2,958 yards, McCoy held the freshman record for most passing yards.
Overall, McCoy owns the freshman record for most touchdowns in a game (six against Baylor), overall touchdowns (29), most completions, starts and, most importantly, wins.
In his first start, McCoy threw for 178 yards with three touchdowns on 12-of-19 passing in a 56-7 win over North Texas.
The next week came the rematch against Ohio State in Austin. The No. 1-ranked Buckeyes were the favorite to win the national championship that season and featured eventual Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith at quarterback. Ohio State rolled over Texas, 24-7. Ohio State played Florida in the BCS National Championship Game. Florida won big.
McCoy was 19-for-32 for 154 yards with a pick and touchdown against the Buckeyes, whose defense featured a handful of future NFL players and first-round picks.
After losing to Ohio State, Texas won eight-straight games, including a second-straight win over Oklahoma.
A 22-20 win in Lincoln, Neb. against the No. 20 Cornhuskers was signature victory of 2006. McCoy threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns without any interceptions.
Brown also continued his amazing coaching ability with kickers.
Like he had in 1998 when he told kicker Kris Stockton how jealous he was, Brown told kicker Ryan Bailey — with the Longhorns trailing Nebraska 20-19– with 23 seconds left ” You’re the luckiest guy in the world. You’ve got a chance to be Dusty Mangum on your first kick.”
Mangum had hit the game-winner in the Rose Bowl a few years earlier. Bailey hit 22-yard game-winner against Nebraska that day.
Texas was ranked No. 4 in the nation when they traveled to Kansas State on Nov. 11. By this point, McCoy was an “emerging Heisman Trophy candidate,” Statesman columnist Cedric Golden wrote.
But a “stinger” against the Wildcats when he was 4-for-4 with 51 yards passing caused McCoy to miss most of the game. The Wildcats, unranked and being coached by Ron Prince (yeah, remember him?), took advantage. Kansas State led 42-21 midway through the third quarter.
Snead and running back Charles got to work and cut into Kansas State’s lead. With 1:36 left in the game, Chris Ogbonnaya scored from 1-yard out to make the score 45-42. But it was too late. Texas never scored again.
Earlier in the day, the BCS discussion fast-lane had opened for Texas. Auburn and California were upset, opening the door for Texas to move from fourth to inside the top three.
But that was over. The repeat chances were finished. Bohls wrote:
On a bone-chilling November evening, Texas’ shot at a second consecutive national championship fell by the wayside with its second loss. Quarterback Colt McCoy’s belated, brilliant attempt to crash the Heisman Trophy party went awry with an undisclosed shoulder injury, and senior cornerback Aaron Ross’ play sadly went from superb to sorry in a most atypical display.
McCoy returned the next week. He was 17-for-28 with three interceptions in a deflating loss to Texas A&M, who scored a Stephen McGee touchdown with 2:32 left in the game to take the lead and the win, 12-7. McCoy was carted off the field on a stretcher against the Aggies.
The Longhorns were invited to the Alamo Bowl to play Iowa. Texas hadn’t played Iowa since that terrible Freedom Bowl performance in 1984, a 55-17 loss.
McCoy was cleared to play in the bowl game after having suffered a pinched nerve in his neck during the Kansas State and Texas A&M games.
He threw for 308 yards in a 26-24 win over the Hawkeyes.
Texas finished 10-3 in 2006 and No. 13 in the final AP poll.
Aaron Ross gave Texas its second-straight Jim Thorpe Award winner (Michael Huff won in 2005). Four Longhorns were named All-Americans, including Justin Blalock, Tim Crowder and Michael Griffin.
Charles led the Longhorns in rushing with 870 yards and seven touchdowns. It was the first time Texas failed to have a 1,000 -yard rusher since 1994. The lack of a consistent rushing game wasn’t lost on Bohls, who wrote that Texas needed to get back to the balanced offense it had in previous season under Brown and offensive coordinator Greg Davis.
Limas Sweed had 46 catches, Quan Cosby — returning from a four-year odyssey in baseball — had 45 catches. Also jumping on the scene was Finley, the new starting tight end, who caught 31 passes for 372 yards.
Defensively, the Griffins — Michael and Marcus — had 126 and 90 tackles to lead Texas. Ross had 80 tackles and six interceptions. Tim Crowder led Texas with 10.5 sacks.
Snead announced he was transferring in January of 2007. He chose Ole Miss, where in 2008 he was one of the best quarterbacks in college football. Entering the 2009 season Snead was considered a possible No. 1 overall pick. He may have been a first round pick had he come out of Ole Miss following the 2008 season.
He didn’t. In 2009 he threw 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, entered the draft and was undrafted. He is no longer in football.
Texas was in good shape heading into the future, and McCoy made sure that there wouldn’t be another quarterback controversy at Texas for the reminder of the decade.