'07 Unwrapped: Sam Acho

It looked like a quiet summer for Cardinal recruiting in the Lone Star State, until the tale of Sam Acho emerged in recent weeks. The defensive end/tight end from St. Mark's School of Texas is one of the hot stories in 2007 recruiting, including pursuit by both participants from last year's National Championship game. A school on his visit calendar this week, however, is Stanford...

To those of us who follow recruiting stories, one of the most unusual in this 2007 class has been Sam Acho.  The 6'2.5" 251-pound defensive end/tight end from Dallas (Tex.) St. Mark's School of Texas jumped suddenly onto our radar only a month ago.  Previously non-existent in any public recruiting services, Acho now reports offers and suitors from BCS conferences across the country.  On paper, it sounds like a story and recruit who has "blown up," though that is only partially true.

"I'm getting looked at a little more," Acho describes.  "This has been somewhat of a gradual process.  I was gone for a little while on vacation, and when I came home, I found out about the explosion and all these articles."

The Dallas defensive end says that he already held scholarship offers, unreported at the time, from SMU, TCU, Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Virginia and Iowa.  He camped at USC in June and walked away with a verbal offer (which he is waiting to firm with a follow-up written offer).  All of this took place before any reporter latched onto Acho's story.

"They already knew what everybody else started to find out," he comments on his early offer schools.  "I was already known by coaches."

That is not to say that the intense attention has been incidental to Acho's activity of late.

"It's helped with the rankings," Acho laughs.  "Also I have some new offers, like NebraskaTexas has started to show an interest.  Also UCLA and Cal are starting to talk with me."

For a Dallas man, the Longhorns hold plenty of interest.  Fresh off their national championship, Texas is truly the toast of the state.  A lengthy conversation between Acho's father and a UT coach this past Friday has set the table for what could be a fast-changing and important chapter in the recruitment of the St. Mark's senior.

"Texas just started getting in touch with me," Acho says.  "I'm excited to hear from them.  I'm going to see Texas this week.  If they happened to offer, they would definitely be a school I would consider."

Anybody who has followed Texas recruiting in recent years understands that the Longhorns operate a little differently from their peers.  Not only have they been able to stock up on top talent, the Horns have also cleaned up early.  To date, they own 22 publicly reported verbal commits in this 2007 class.  Texas racked up 20 commits in the '06 class by this time a year ago.

There are some supply/demand dynamics at work to help pressure a prospective student-athlete at this time, with Texas' class just about full.  On top of that, Mack Brown and his staff actively and openly pressure some targets to commit or be passed over.  That begs the logical question: if Texas offers and asks for a prompt commitment from Sam Acho, will he acquiesce?

"Probably not," Acho answers.  "Because they're just jumping on the bandwagon.  I want to take my time and make a wise decision."

Part of that process includes unofficial visits this summer.  Acho saw both USC and Oklahoma State while at their camps.  He most recently traveled to Virginia and spent several days there.  His planned trip to Austin is not the last or least trek on his calendar this week, flying Wednesday evening to the Bay Area with his father for a Thursday of activities on the Stanford campus.  The Cardinal first extended a verbal offer to Acho, and then followed up in writing.  They appear to have his interest.

"Stanford is definitely one of the schools I'm looking at," Acho offers.  "The academics are what are so intriguing to me."

"I just want to see the campus, talk to the coaches and talk with the players - get a feel for the school," he says of his visit objectives.  "I'm really looking forward to talking with the students.  I want to see how they feel about the school and how they feel football and school go together.  Also how they feel about being at Stanford in general."

We will check back with Acho after his unofficial visit to The Farm, but he asserts already that the Cardinal are one of his favorite schools.

"They're top five," he declares.  "But I like a lot of the schools that have offered me.  I'm looking at all of them.  I haven't really made out a full top five, top three or top two."

"I'm just taking this one day at a time," Acho adds.  "If I feel that one of the schools stands above the rest and feel comfortable with them, then I could commit.  I'm not going to rush anything, but I also don't want to take too long and miss out on opportunities."

The breadth of Acho's opportunities not only span geographies and academic offerings, but also different positions on the football field where he might play.

"Some schools see me at tight end, some at defensive end, and some at outside linebacker," he says.  "Stanford is recruiting me as an outside linebacker.  In a 3-4 defense, I would be better as an outside linebacker with my size and speed.  If a school runs a 4-3, then I would be best at defensive end.  If I go to a school that wants to use me at tight end, then I want to be at a place that uses the tight end."

And then there is the story of his Stanford application, whereby Acho is aiming to gain admission to the school.  He holds a 3.4 GPA at St. Mark's, where he took a pair of AP courses his junior year.  Acho also owns a 1220 SAT score (math + reading) on the old 1600-point scale.

All in all, this a multifaceted story just beginning to unwind.  Stay tuned for much more on the Sam Acho saga, as Stanford tussles with Texas, USC, Virginia and others in the coming months.

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