I interviewed the Achos separately for about 20 minutes each, and if I didn't know it, I would have thought I was talking to the same person each time. It's easy to tell that the brothers are smart, confident, humble and Godly men. They are rare, that's for sure. And they are, in every sense of the word, real.
Sam and Emmanuel are the type of guys you just want to know more about - the type of guys you want to be around. Much has been publicized about the Acho family's yearly medical mission trips to Nigeria, where Sam and Emmanuel's parents are from. The Achos spend two weeks with a team of doctors and surgeons, helping with surgeries, handing out medicine and ministering to kids. Some fellow Longhorns players have even joined them in recent trips.
"The first time I went on this mission trip ... I was going to school, learning, playing sports and enjoying my life," Sam said in the interview during the 2009 season. "I came back with a completely different perspective on life. I really realized how blessed I was. It makes me thank God every day for putting me where I'm at."
Sam knows exactly the kind of person he wants to be. He knows he's a leader. He's leads verbally. He leads by example. He leads in the classroom, and of course, he leads on the field. It's sad to see him go, but I sure did appreciate every minute I got to see him play.
Sam's list of academic honors is as long as most elite players' on-field honors. Sam truly was not only one of the best representatives of UT program but one of the most dominant defensive players in school history. He led the team in sacks in 2009 and 2010, and had 17 tackles for loss this season. Sam was one of the few consistently dominating players in a rough season that most of us want to forget as quickly as possible.
Here are just a few of his accolades during his time at Texas:
23.5 career sacks
148 career tackles
37 career tackles for loss
William V. Campbell Trophy winner (nation's top football student-athlete - 2010)
Two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American
Named one of Sporting News' 20 Smartest Athletes
Graduated in December 2010 from the business honors program in the McCombs School of Business
Second-team Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America (2010)
Third-team Associated Press All-America (2010)
Lott IMPACT Trophy Finalist (2010)
Lombardi Award Semifinalist (2010)
Unanimous First-Team All-Big 12 (2010)
I don't know if Sam will be a first-round draft pick. He deserves to be. Had 2010 unfolded with a three-loss season or better, I suspect he would be a first-rounder. Whatever team drafts him will get a talented and humble leader - a true soldier of the greatest game.
It seems like Sam always made things happen on the field. It seems that way because that's the way it was. Timely sacks, forced fumbles, tackles for loss - the guy just had a knack for making plays. It's going to be hard to replace Sam Acho. I honestly don't know if it's possible to have a better representative for the Texas Longhorns.
And I'm really going to miss him.