AUSTIN, Texas -- Vince Young is headed to the NFL.
The Texas quarterback, who led the Longhorns to their first national championship in 36 years, announced yesterday he would make himself eligible for the April draft.
Young maintained during the season that he would to return for his senior year, but said his Rose Bowl performance put him ''over the top."
''Hard work has paid off a whole lot," he said.
Young was spectacular in Texas's 41-38 Rose Bowl win over top-ranked Southern Cal last Wednesday, and he would have been a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy had he decided to return. He finished second in Heisman voting this year to USC running back Reggie Bush, another potential No. 1 overall pick.
The versatile quarterback accounted for 467 yards against USC -- 200 running and 267 passing -- and ran 8 yards for the winning touchdown with 19 seconds left.
Young thanked many people, including his family and coach Mack Brown, who could not attend yesterday's news conference. He specifically thanked Brown for ''helping me become a better man."
Young ends his Texas career with a 30-2 record -- best in school history.
His Rose Bowl performance increased speculation that he would leave school early. Young's hometown Houston Texans have the first overall pick. Young said it would be wonderful to play in Houston, but realizes he could wind up elsewhere if the Texans retain incumbent QB David Carr.
One possibility is Tennessee, which has the third pick. Young counts Titans quarterback Steve McNair among his close friends.