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McCoy, Snead to compete for Texas' starting QB spot

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas coach Mack Brown is trying to keep control
of his budding quarterback controversy.

Good luck with that. This is Texas, land of a million wannabe
football coaches and high expectations.

The defending national champion Longhorns begin spring practice
Monday with the primary goal of finding a new quarterback. The
dynamic Vince Young bolted school early for the NFL draft after
leading Texas to a 13-0 record and a 41-38 Rose Bowl win over
Southern California.

Texas fans expect a battle between freshmen Colt McCoy and Jevan
Snead, and they'll get one. It will just start in secrecy and could
take a while to develop into a full-blown duel.

Brown has already named McCoy, who redshirted last season, as
No. 1 heading into Monday's drills. He wants to give Snead, who was
still in high school in December, time to mature.

Snead will get his chance to compete for the job in time for the
2006 season opener, but Brown wants to take him slow.

"It would be unfair to throw Jevan out there immediately
because he's only been in school a month. We do want him to be able
to relax," Brown said. "Jevan's never taken a snap here. Colt's
been here six months."

Brown is also holding to his policy of keeping practice off
limits to fans and media until the final scrimmage on April 1.

The policy was implemented last fall to protect players and the
school from rumors and unofficial reports of injuries. It will also
shield the quarterbacks from fans and reporters who like to count
snaps, completions, misfires and touchdowns.

"We'd like for those two guys to get settled and started and
learn the offense before they are criticized," Brown said.

It will also ratchet up the buzz around the battle.

"It will add some anticipation and excitement for the spring
game," Brown said. "We'd love to see those two compete in the
spring game in front of a full house, in a game setting, because
they're going to be in that."

The Longhorns open the season at home Sept. 2 against North
Texas. The next week, Texas plays Ohio State in Austin.

"We'll have the inexperience at quarterback," Brown said.
"But we think the talent is there."

It's a fine line Brown is walking in handling his quarterbacks.
Nothing creates high anxiety among Orangebloods like a quarterback
competition.

Brown won his first national championship and the first Texas
title in 35 years last season, but Longhorns fans aren't that far
removed from the Major Applewhite-Chris Simms saga of a few years
ago. And there are some in the bunch who 20 games ago wanted Young
to move to wide receiver so Chance Mock could run the offense.

"People love playing two quarterbacks around here," Brown
joked.

Because practices are closed, Brown will be the primary source
of information on how the QBs are developing. The Internet fan
message boards are sure to light up at any hint that McCoy is
pulling away or that Snead is closing in.

Texas did not make Snead and McCoy available for interviews
before the start of spring practice. Brown says they'll be allowed
to talk when he thinks they're ready.

Brown said he won't ask either player to be like Young, who was
30-2 as a starter and the Texas career leader in total offense
(9,167 yards), touchdowns (81) and rushing touchdowns by a
quarterback (37).

"You find a Vince once in a lifetime," Brown said.

Most of what Texas fans know about them comes from impressive
high school resumes.

McCoy threw 116 touchdown passes at Class 2A Jim Ned High
School, which ranked No. 2 in Texas prep history. He redshirted
last season, running the scout team and occasionally taking
practice snaps with the second-team offense. He also looked sharp
in Texas' final scrimmage before the start of last season.

At the news conference to announce his departure for the NFL,
Young called McCoy "a smart quarterback" with a strong arm.

"He's already gained the respect of the guys, and like I told
him all year, that's the biggest key," Young said.

Snead was a high school All-American, leading Stephenville to
the Class 4A semifinals last season. He capped his high school
career with an impressive performance in the Army All-American Bowl
all-star game. By enrolling in college this spring, he also
traveled with the team to the White House to meet President Bush.

After the all-star game and before Young announced his decision
to leave, Snead told the Austin American-Statesman he'd be ready to
compete for the starting job if Young left school.

"I've talked with the coaches and they said that if Young
leaves, I'll get the chance to compete for a starting spot," he
said.

A few days later, Young announced his decision, leaving a gaping
hole to be filled if Texas hopes to repeat as Big 12 champion.

The Longhorns likely would have been the consensus preseason No.
1 if Young had returned, but his departure leaves too big of a
question mark for that.