Mr. Sam Acho
University of Texas
December 7, 2010
FORT WALTON BEACH — As a terrorizing defensive end, Sam Acho is exactly the kind of player that Danny Wuerffel looked to avoid when he played college football.
However, when it comes to the Wuerffel Trophy, the University of Texas star is exactly the kind of player Wuerffel and the Fort Walton Beach-based All Sports Association’s National Selection Committee wanted to find.
On Monday afternoon during a conference call, Acho learned that he is this year’s recipient of the award, which is presented annually by the All Sports Association to the Football Bowl Subdivision player that best combines exemplary community service with academic and athletic achievement.
Wuerffel broke the news to Acho, who was ecstatic to win the Wuerffel Trophy and also to be speaking with the former Heisman Trophy winner.“It means the world to me for all that Danny Wuerffel represents,” Acho said. “To win this award, which is actually named after him, and to put me even around that category is just a huge honor to me. … It speaks so much to what he’s about and what I try to model myself after.”
Acho beat out fellow Wuerffel Trophy finalists Christian Ponder (Florida State, QB), Greg McElroy (Alabama, QB), Dominik Riley (Memphis, OL), Ben Chappell (Indiana, QB), Kyle Adams (Purdue, TE), Chris Stewart (Notre Dame, OL), Kirk Cousins (Michigan State, QB), Steven Wisniewski (Penn State, OL) and Chimaobim “Chima” Nwachukwu (Washington State, safety).
“I’m really, really excited for Sam,” Wuerffel said, “and just everything he’s done and going to do.” Acho has done plenty, both on and off the field.
While Texas struggled this season, Acho did anything but in his senior campaign, recording 59 tackles, including 17 for a loss, along with nine sacks, 17 quarterback hurries, five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. Those numbers put him in contention for the Lott Trophy, which goes to the nation’s top defensive IMPACT player, and he recently received the Sixth Annual Awards and Recognition Association Sportsmanship Award.
“I just wanted to play to the best of my ability every single game,” Acho said, “and I wanted to practice to the best of my ability every day and I also wanted to motivate others around me.” Helping others around him was a goal off the field.
His community service resume is just as impressive as his list of football accomplishments. Along with dedicating countless hours to community efforts in Texas, Acho and his family have made several medical mission trips to his father’s and mother’s native country of Nigeria. Once there, they provide free medical care to a small village that has extremely limited access to doctors, and Acho called it “hands-down the most fun and most meaningful piece of community work that I do.” As for the classroom, Acho, a business major, maintains a 3.55 GPA.
“Sam is as committed of a young man to his team, community, faith and family as anyone I have ever coached,” Texas head football coach Mack Brown wrote in Acho’s nomination form for the Wuerffel Trophy. “He works as hard on the field as any player I’ve been around and is tireless in his efforts off the field. … Sam is a tremendous leader and just epitomizes the meaning behind student-athlete.”
The presentation of the Wuerffel Trophy will be Feb. 18 at the All Sports Association’s 42nd Annual Awards Dinner on Okaloosa Island. Last year’s winner was Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller, and he was preceded by Tim Tebow (Florida, quarterback), Paul Smith (Tulsa, quarterback), Joel Penton (Ohio State, defensive lineman) and Rudy Niswanger (Louisiana State, offensive lineman).
“We’re excited to have you as part of the growing Wuerffel Trophy family,” Wuerffel told Acho. “In the midst of many awards, hopefully it will be something that will be memorable for you not just for the Trophy, but for the relationships that I think you’ll form from it.”