“When I got that call and they said if the Browns didn't pick me, then they were going to, I was speechless,” Acho said. “They told me congratulations and that they were hoping I would be at this position and that they were really excited to have me. They were excited and I am too. They want me to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 [defensive alignment]. I honestly can't wait. I've been to Arizona once and it's an unbelievable place to be and place to live. I'm excited to start my future in Arizona.”
"Sam Acho is one of the hardest working people, best leaders in high character that I’ve been around in my 37 years of coaching,” Texas head coach Mack Brown said. “He is a young man that you just say, ‘Congratulations and great job, Sam.’ He’s going to do everything within his power to do every little thing right every day. Any team that gets Sam is lucky to get him. Off the field he’s a leader, on the field he’s a leader, and he’s also a very productive player.”
Acho's impact extended beyond the playing field. This season, Acho earned the Campbell Trophy as college football's top student-athlete in combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership. He also won the Wuerffel Award and ARA Sportsmanship Award, and was named an Allstate AFCA Good Works Team member, an ESPN Academic All-America First Team member and a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The Sporting News tapped Acho as one of the "20 Smartest Athletes."
Nine Texas defensive linemen have gone in the past five years, including Sergio Kindle and Lamaar Houston a year ago. Acho will join fellow Longhorn Lyle Sendlein in Arizona.
"I'm excited to have Lyle Sendlein out there," Acho said. "That's another Longhorn who's going to be able to help me out and just let me know how things are and be another familiar face in a different place. I also want to catch up with Rak (Brian Orakpo) in the next couple of days. I know he can give me a lot of good advice and we're going to be running a similar defense as the Redskins, so I can't wait to be able to talk to him about everything."
In 2010, Acho had 59 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, nine sacks, 17 pressures, five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. His five fumble recoveries led the nation. Acho finished his Longhorn career with nine recovered fumbles, second on the Texas career charts, while he finished 10th in career sacks with 23.5. He also made 37 career tackles for loss.
“My greatest strength on the football field is that I’m a relentless player," Acho said. "I’m never going to give up, I’m never going to stop whether it’s rushing the quarterback or whether it’s trying to make a play on a running back. I’m going to be relentless and always running to the ball, making plays and doing whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Listed as a defensive end, Acho's NFL Scouting Combine numbers stacked up well against many of the top linebackers. He ran 4.68 seconds in the 40 and a 4.32 shuttle, while his vertical jump and bench press repetitions were also top-15 marks for a linebacker. Perhaps most importantly, he showed the versatility to drop back and cover, as well as his demonstrated ability to rush the passer.
“I’m not sure what led to me lasting this long in the draft but what I do know is that it’s all part of God’s plan and it’s all part of God’s timing, so I knew that he would put me where he wanted me to be," Acho said. "I know a lot of other teams have been talking to me and have been really wanting me to come to their organization, but I know this is going to be the perfect fit.This is going to be the right place and I couldn’t imagine a better place to play.”