Texas defensive tackle Kheeston Randall is one of the biggest jokers on the Longhorn squad. And one of the quips he makes the most often in media circles is to refer to Emmanuel Acho as "the lesser Acho." While the tag made sense through this past season thanks to the success of older brother Sam Acho, Emmanuel enters 2011 with a chance to make a mark all of his own.
That's not to say that Acho is starting from scratch. Last season, Acho finished second on the Longhorns in tackles (87) and third in tackles for loss (12). He sacked the quarterback three times. He picked off a pass and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown.
But perhaps more importantly, Acho showed his potential on the Longhorns' biggest stage, tearing through the Oklahoma offense in the Red River Shootout. He had 17 tackles, five for loss and a sack and forced fumble that nearly turned the tide of the game late in the fourth quarter.
That Acho accomplished all of that while bouncing between middle and outside linebacker speaks to his character and ability to adapt. While the former remains an asset to the Longhorns, he might not need the latter as much this season, with Keenan Robinson moving to the middle, allowing Acho to play his more natural spot on the outside.
As is, he's one of the top linebackers in a conference that's stacked with them, and teams with Robinson and Jordan Hicks to form one of the country's best linebacking groups.
2010 Stats: 87 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, three sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery