Sam Acho is an athlete who is as smart as they come. In addition, he was a member of the All-Big 12 at Texas so I think it’s safe to say football runs in his blood.
Sam was a four-year letterman in track and field and basketball in high school. As for his smarts, he was on the honor roll in high school for four straight years. In 2010 at Texas, he was the winner of the William V. Campbell trophy which is a prestigious award given to only to the top scholar-athlete in college football.
In that same year Acho was also on Sporting News’ top-20 smartest athlete list including pro sports. His sports hero is the great Julius Peppers. This season I’d look for him to model his play after Peppers while still putting his own twist on things being a linebacker and all.
In his rookie season Acho played in all 16 games and ended up starting 10 games in a system where the head coach didn’t start rookies until they earned the job. Acho made 40 tackles (35 solo), seven sacks, four forced fumbles, and two pass deflections. Not bad for a rookie defensive end turned outside linebacker.
Last season Acho played and started in all 16 games, had 48 tackles (35 solo again), four sacks, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions. His two interceptions came on the road, one in Week 7 at Minnesota and the other one in week 11 against Matt Ryan’s Atlanta Falcons on their own turf. That interception shows that Acho’s field smarts are growing and that he’s becoming a veteran right infront of our eyes.
With Acho being a mentor to Alex Okafor, I’d expect him to lead by example and let the bit of veteran in him to take over on the field. His stats the first two seasons are pretty much the same even though they’ve slightly gotten better last year.
I don’t know if Acho played to his full potential in Ray Horton’s defense or if he just did a good job in a complicated scheme. What I do know is Todd Bowles’ defense is going to allow players to do what they do best. Ken Whisenhunt had that same philosophy the first few years as the head coach.
Coming into his third season in the league and having a new defense, I’d expect Acho to make big strides on the field this season. Then again if the staff is going to put everyone in packages that allows them to do what they do best, then I expect everyone who gets a good amount of playing time to make an impact on the field as well.