NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As a youngster growing up in Hawaii, Marcus Mariota was a fan of quarterback Vince Young.
He watched him during his playing days at the University of Texas, and later with the Tennessee Titans.
Over the weekend, the current Titans quarterback met the former one.
Mariota freely admits it was a big moment for him.
“I was starstruck to be honest with you,” Mariota said. “I mean, I grew up watching Vince. He was an incredible player and somebody I thought was a special talent. He was really, really fun to watch. When he came up to me, I kind of fanboyed for a little bit, wanting to get a picture and all that stuff. It was very nice of him to come over and introduce himself. I really appreciated it. It was great to meet him.”
Young, in town for Homecoming Weekend, said he enjoyed meeting Mariota as well. At the end of the team’s walkthrough, Young went looking for Mariota to say hello.
“Ah man, I’m proud of him,” Young said of Mariota. “I didn’t know he was that damn tall.”
Back in 2006, the Titans selected Young with the third overall in the NFL Draft.
Nine years later, the franchise selected Mariota with the second overall pick.
Over the weekend, the two quarterbacks chatted briefly, and posed for the picture inside the team’s indoor practice facility at Saint Thomas Sports Park. Young, who played from 2006-2010 with the franchise, attended homecoming events and he attended the team’s game on Sunday at Nissan Stadium, where he watched Mariota quarterback the team to a 23-20 win over the Ravens.
Both players won the Davey O’Brien Quarterback Award while in college. Young won it in his final season at Texas, while Mariota won the award, presented to the player judged to be the top quarterback in the nation, his final season at the University of Oregon.
“That’s Davey O’Brien man,” Young said of Mariota. “We’re in the same circle.”
Young said he’s watched Mariota during his first three years in the league, and said he’s been impressed.
“Yeah, I watch him, and he’s doing pretty good,” Young said of Mariota. “He’s doing what he needs to do. There’s going to be growing pains, and he’s had different offensive coordinators. But he is doing good overall.
“He’s a good one already and he’s just going to get better and better. I am proud of him, and I am pulling for him.”
Mariota said Young “wished me the best.”
“I really appreciate that he took the time to come over and say hello,” Mariota said of Young.
Former Titans tight end Bo Scaife, teammates with Young in Tennessee, said he’s been impressed with Mariota as well.
“I think he is great,” Scaife said of Mariota. “He has not taken that big leap yet, and hopefully he is about to take that leap. But we all know he has the potential to do that. They have the right pieces around him, and it seems like he is comfortable in the offense. The longer he is in the system, the more you can expect great results.”
Young and Scaife were among roughly 80 former Titans who returned for Homecoming Weekend.
It was Young’s first trip back to Saint Thomas Sports Park, and Nissan Stadium, since his playing days. Young won The Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2006, and he posted a 31-19 record as a starter with the franchise.
Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo, teammates with Young one season at Texas, said he was glad to see Young back in town.
Young also posed for a picture with Orakpo, Scaife and two other Texas graduates – owner Amy Adams Strunk and former Titans fullback Ahmard Hall – on Saturday at the team’s walkthrough.
“I’m glad Vince decided to show up because he is a fan favorite,” Orakpo said. “And I always tell him that, and he knows it. He always has been a fan favorite. All the fans and everybody wanted to see him, so it’s great to be around him. I love V.Y. He’s always going to be a Titan, and I’m glad he came back.”