Few moments in the life of young people equal the excitement in the voice of the college senior who can exclaim, "I got the job!"
There are few hours longer than those of waiting for a phone call, after a job interview, to hear from a prospective employer.
That's why this weekend was so wonderful for Texas football.
When Mack Brown came to UT, it was with the commitment to return Longhorns football to its rightful place among college football's elite. While the wins are significant, it is the people who are important.
So Saturday when DE Cory Redding, OG Derrick Dockery and QB Chris Simms were chosen in the NFL Draft, it was day of dreams coming true. Sunday, CB Rod Babers was picked, and since then, OT Robbie Doane, LB Lee Jackson and OT Alfio Randall-Veasey have agreed to terms with NFL clubs.
The Longhorns drafted were the most since six were chosen in the 1997 class that included Bryant Westbrook and Dan Neil. Other than that season, you have to go all the way back to 1992 to find a draft with this many Longhorns involved.
Particularly impressive for Simms, who was the most talked about player during ESPN's telecast of the draft, were the comments that came from observers who have studied him and the game.
"Mechanically, the best two quarterbacks in the draft are Rex Grossman and Chris Simms," said the legendary Bill Walsh. "They've been really well-coached."
Simms, drafted by the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also got high praise from Jon Gruden, his new coach.
"The guy's won-loss record speaks for itself," Gruden said. "What he has accomplished at the University of Texas is quite impressive. He's a big guy that has functional mobility and has won big games in a big arena. He is a good kid and is going to have a great opportunity here in Tampa to do the things he is capable of doing."
While Brown's string of five first-round picks in the last four years ended as Redding was chosen with the second pick of the third round by Detroit, the Longhorns head coach was actually celebrating. Had junior wide receiver Roy Williams elected to give up his senior year and enter the draft, he would have been a first-rounder.
"Our first-round pick this year chose to come back to school, so we'll just be happy to wait a year for that," Brown said.
Brown was particularly pleased with the placement of his players.
"It isn't when you are drafted that is most important," he said. "It is by whom. In each case, the players drafted fit the team that picked them. Some of them will have a chance to play right away and some, such as Chris, will get a great opportunity to watch and grow. The NFL Draft is not the end of something, it is only the beginning."
If you make the case that the purpose of college life is to prepare young people for their future, there are a couple of significant things to remember when it comes to the NFL.
First, it is obviously the highest level of sport as college football players know it. However, it is also true that great college players do not necessarily make great pros, and by the same token, great pros aren't necessarily great in college. The ranks of UT's All-Americans, and some of its most honored former players, are filled with guys who never played in the NFL.
Only a few are blessed with a chance to play "at the next level."
Sunday at Riverbend Church in Austin, Gerald Mann, who has been a great friend of the Longhorns football team for years, talked in a sermon about what it takes to achieve success.
"There are actually three 't's,' that play into success," Mann said. "The first is talent,‚ the second is timing and there is nothing you can do to control either of those. You either have talent or you don't and timing is either right or it is not.
"The third is the one thing you can control," Mann continued. "That's trying or tenacity. That's where you can make a difference."
For the Longhorns in the NFL Draft, the first two are done. Talent and timing are established. Now, as with any new job, comes the real test.
What we know about that is, just like thousands of their fellow seniors will face in a different arena in a few months, the excitement and the uncertainty of new directions are both thrilling and concerning. Fact is, these guys have done a great job for Texas. Celebrate that, hug them and wish them well.
Let's hope that that "new job" leads to a long and distinguished career, whatever path they eventually all choose.
The purpose of a university is to educate and the track record of Brown and his staff is to teach young people who have proven that they have learned their lessons well.