Vince Young was already a household name in Houston before he ever arrived at the University of Texas and won the Longhorns a national championship in 2006. His stellar play attracted large crowds to his Houston Madison games.
By JOHN WERNER firstname.lastname@example.org
Before Vince Young led the Texas Longhorns to the 2005 national championship, he was already a schoolboy legend at Houston Madison.
High school football fans flocked to see him in such masses that Houston Independent School District stadiums often weren’t large enough to hold the crowds.
“We played nine games in the Astrodome his senior year, and the smallest crowd was about 20,000,” said former Madison coach Ray Seals. “We had 40,000 when we played North Shore. Everybody wanted to see that kid play.”
Nobody had seen a quarterback quite like Young with his 6-5 frame, rifle arm and legs that made him the most dangerous running quarterback in the country. Fans came out to see Young do something they’d never seen before, and he usually delivered.
Madison coach Pat Reinecke, who was the team’s offensive line coach during Young’s high school years from 1998 to 2001, marveled at what he saw week after week.
“He just had it,” Reinecke said. “He was a once in a lifetime kind of kid. He was born with it.”
Young will be inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame on Saturday after a Madison career in which he threw for 4,860 yards and 61 touchdowns and rushed for 2,764 yards.
Young had the talent to play for the varsity as a freshman, but Seals wanted him to learn the game more extensively before he played him against upperclassmen. As Madison’s freshman coach in 1998, Reinecke felt like he had been handed a gift.
“As a freshman, he made me look good,” Reinecke said. “We had a lot of talent and it started with him. It really didn’t matter what we called. I remember a play that he must have run 50 yards and only gained about 15. He’d go right, then left and then forward. He was running all over the field against their whole team.”
By his sophomore year, Young was starting for the Madison varsity. Seals ran a veer offense that relieved heavily on Young’s running ability, but he also had to learn how to become a more patient passer and throw the ball accurately.
“He had to learn to sit in the pocket,” Seals said. “When someone came up to him, he just wanted to go outside. He had to learn how to take proper steps and throw it. But he was one of those kids who came to practice early and stayed late.”
While Young enjoyed solid sophomore and junior seasons, he exploded as a senior when he passed for 2,545 yards and 35 touchdowns and rushed for 1,274 yards and 24 scores.
One of Young’s most memorable games came in the Class 5A Division I state quarterfinals when he threw for 177 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 192 yards and three scores in a 61-58 shootout win over Galena Park North Shore. Madison was ranked No. 1 nationally by USA Today while North Shore was No. 5.