Vaccaro recalls memories of decade-long friendship with Griffin


Kenny Vaccaro deflects a pass in the Longhorns’ 27-25 win over Texas A&M on Thanksgiving. The junior is looking forward to facing Robert Griffin, his longtime friend and Baylor quarterback, on Saturday .

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Kenny Vaccaro, like many of Texas’ players on defense, vowed to deny Baylor’s Robert Griffin III a signature moment that would help him win the Heisman Trophy.

“We definitely don’t want anyone winning the Heisman on our clock,” Vaccaro said.

But the junior safety, unlike his teammates, is close friends with the Heisman Trophy candidate. Vaccaro claims to have known Griffin since he was nine years old as they competed at state and national track meets throughout their childhoods. Griffin, whose parents are both retired from the military, has a work ethic that has impressed Vaccaro, who says “he trains to be the best.”

“We were talking during the game,” recalled Vaccaro. “He was saying, ‘I’m glad we’ll meet again. I can’t wait to play you next year. Hopefully, we’ll meet on Sundays, too.’”

Mack Brown’s take on exchange between Walters, McCoy
Just before the end of the third quarter, quarterback Case McCoy frantically tried to call a timeout before the play clock expired. But Texas was flagged for delay of game and sophomore guard Mason Walters was not happy about it.

He shot up from his stance and got in McCoy’s face before Cody Johnson approached him and calmed him down. Walters was called for a false start before the first play of the Longhorns’ next drive.

“At 6-foot-6, 320, you usually just say, ‘Yes, sir,’” said head coach Mack Brown. “He is very, very emotional. He reminds me as much of Kasey Studdard as any offensive linemen that we’ve had. I think it’s a great burst of energy that shows how badly he wants to win.”

How Manny Diaz was hired
Last December, Will Muschamp informed Brown that he was accepting the head coaching job at Florida, leaving him without a defensive coordinator merely an hour before having dinner with a group of recruits and their parents.

Brown called three SEC head coaches that all said, in the event they needed a defensive coordinator, they would hire Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who was not on Brown’s initial list of candidates to replace Muschamp. He watched YouTube videos of MSU’s defense and witnessed Diaz’s group shut out Denard Robinson and Michigan’s offense for the final three quarters of the Gator Bowl. Brown flew Diaz in to Austin to offer him a job as the Longhorns’ defensive coordinator the following day.

“I knew Mississippi State’s players weren’t as good as a lot of the guys they were playing,” Brown said. “I started calling other people I knew at other SEC schools that weren’t head coaches. Most of them would say, ‘I don’t know his name, but he’s really good at what he does.’”

Printed on Thursday, December 1, 2011 as: Horns' safety remembers time with Baylor's Griffin