As former Texas Longhorns offensive tackle Octavius Bishop notes, being back on the 40 Acres makes him feel like it's 1994 again. But Bishop's playing days are long over and it's been a journey for him to get back to Austin for a third time, where he's set to take over the newly-created position of Director of Student Leadership/Personal Development.
So the (extremely large) man who once helped open up holes for Heisman-winning running back Ricky Williams will now help carve out post-career futures for Texas football players.
"Having the opportunity to work at The University of Texas has always been a dream," Bishop said in a release from the school at the time of his hire in late May. "Being able to come back and share what I've learned over the years is truly humbling.
"Coach Strong and his staff are passionate about the players, and it's easy to discern their genuine desire to see them succeed on and off the field. I've enjoyed getting to know Coach Strong and love that he is a genuine straight shooter. His plan to help his players with life after football is transformative. The student-athletes in his program will leave the 40 Acres as better men."
The program's stated objectives are "personal growth, character enhancement, leadership assessment and development, life skills and career preparation," according to the school.
Since spending three years as the starter at left tackle for Texas (1995-98), Bishop had a brief stint in the NFL and then played in NFL Europe and suffered a career-ending leg injury while in the XFL.
With Bishop's football career over, he returned to Austin and got his master's degree in social work and is currently finishing up his Ph.D candidacy in psychology at Walden University-Minnesota.
During his second stint at Texas, he served as a mentor and tutor in the athletic department and then worked as a program coordinator for a Central Texas organization that works with at-risk students at five area high schools.
"Many of the student-athletes who will attend The University of Texas come from backgrounds similar to my own," Bishop said. "I have a unique perspective, as a former player and student, that many of them will share. The relationships I've established outside of football have played a profound role in my professional and personal development."
Hailing from Houston Westfield, Bishop says that he was reading at a fourth grade level entering high school until his head coach, Emory Bellard, the man who created the Wishbone at Texas, began to advocate for him on a personal level, which Bishop said changed his life. Bellard helped Bishop begin a remarkable journey that has now come full circle for a second time.
In 2008, Bishop started working at a neurosensory sports science center that assesses the mental, physical, and personal growth of athletes ranging from high school to the professional ranks. From 2012-2016, he's served as an adjunct professor of psychology at Austin Community College.
As a result, Bishop will bring a diverse range of experiences to his new role.
"I had an unbelievable conversation with Octavious about what we were looking for in this position and knew right away that he was the man for the job," Texas head coach Charlie Strong said. "He's an engaging and energetic person who has a ton of experience working with personal development and has gained so much knowledge in handling all aspects of student-athletes' lives. I just really loved his passion and all of the ideas he was bringing to the table. On top of that, he's a Longhorn letterman who overcame a lot of obstacles in his own life. I'm so excited to have him joining our staff."