...a little over two years ago, on a beautiful and sunny Friday afternoon, I both graduated from the University of Texas and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. Delaying my military service to get my law degree, I've been lucky enough to celebrate with the UT graduates and military commissionees each of the last two years.
Every year, thousands of students graduate from UT, and I never really thought this year's class contained any special emotional significance to the average UT fan. However, I was dumbstruck when I heard someone at a graduation party mention that their favorite memory at Texas was when we won the national title during their freshman year. It blew my mind that this year's Senior Class was the last group of UT students to have a direct connection with Vincent Paul Young, Jr. The seniors of next year encompasses the first group of students to enter UT after our national title.
After the jump, I'm going to make some additional observations based on this revelation and offer a few comments over Memorial Day...
The official break from any direct ties to Vince Young also extends into the football program. Despite Jordan Shipley and Colt McCoy seemingly being around forever, neither of them stepped on the field with Vince Young during the fairytale 2005 season. However, both of these superstars--in addition to the other redshirt seniors--were able to practice with Vince and witnessed his leadership and how he willed the team to victory against Ohio State and USC. While the shadow of VY has officially been removed from the program for several years, and Colt has progressed into a damn fine leader and QB of his own accord, it remains striking that none of the current players set foot on the field against the Trojans. Despite none of our players participating in the Rose Bowl, the current batch of redshirt seniors should each remember the feeling of what it meant to be a champion. This indirect connection from the redshirt seniors to the 2005 Rose Bowl is where the effect of the memories of the football players from that magical night will officially end.
It seems like yesterday that I was taking the picture accompanying my BON screenname, but it truly has been a longer time than I'd realized. The undergraduate seniors of 2010 will speak of Colt and KD, without any connection as a student to Vince Young, Michael Huff, Lamarcus Aldridge, PJ Tucker, or Daniel Gibson. While students and fans can have connections to players and teams both before and after their time at Texas, there's just something special about the time spent on the Forty Acres. The graduating seniors held that special connection to some of my favorite players and moments, and I'm hoping the next group of seniors will get something as memorable as the 2005 Rose Bowl or the Sweet Sixteen buzzer-beater by Kenton Paulino.
I would like to make mention of one additional senior at UT. Last weekend, I was given the honor of administering the Oath of Office to one of the commissioning seniors in the Navy ROTC Program. One of his fellow commissionees was Drew Marcantonio, a walk-on to the UT Football team and a freshly minted Marine officer. While we've all heard infamous rants and speeches comparing football to warfare, Drew Marcantonio is one football player who will actually put himself in harm's way through the Marine Corps. The sacrifice and dedication required to be an ROTC Cadet is substantial and each commissionee deserves widespread admiration and respect. The fact that an individual could combine learning the military sciences with the grueling football practice schedule is a true testament to individual character. I'd like to wish the best of luck to Second Lieutenant Marcantonio during his military career. I graduated with thirteen other seniors in the Army ROTC Program, and at least seven of them are already serving overseas. It remains one of the highest honors of my life to train alongside these former cadets, and I hope each of you will think of the sacrifices of the young men and women in our Armed Forces during this Memorial Day.
Anyways, I'd like to wish a BON congratulations to all of the graduating seniors. Within a few months, we'll be officially welcoming the encoming freshmen, who will hopefully get their own batch of memories and championships. And, hopefully, we'll add another Omaha championship to the ledger within the next month, which will also help bridge the gap between the outgoing seniors and incoming freshmen.