INDIANAPOLIS — As a student at the University of Texas, Sam Acho studied marketing. When he's done with his football career, he wants to develop a company that helps athletes get in contact with companies who'd like to sponsor them.
This week at the NFL Scouting Combine, Acho is doing a different type of marketing: for himself. The former Longhorn is doing everything he can to let the 32 teams in attendance know that he can play both outside linebacker in a 3-4 and defensive end in a 4-3.
"I'll play whatever the team drafts me to play," Acho said on Saturday. "I've been working on my drops and I'm comfortable playing either position."
Acho performed well the past two years in Austin, recording 19 sacks and seven forced fumbles combined in his junior and senior seasons. His elite play coincided with the departure of Brian Orakpo, a fellow Longhorn who was a force as an end in college but has emerged as a premier pass-rushing outside 'backer during his first two seasons with the Redskins. The two overlapped for two years, and Acho said has been a close observer of Orakpo's for a long time, beginning when they played together.
"I think the biggest thing I learned from playing with Orakpo is he was already one of the best athletes on the field but he always just had full effort. He never quit on any plays," Acho said. "You see a lot of guys who are phenomenal athletes but they don't try their best all the time. Orakpo's a guy who gave 100 percent effort all the time and that's probably the biggest lesson I've learned from him."
Since his graduation from UT in December, Acho — who weighed in at the Combine at 6-1 5/8, 262 pounds — has been working at Ignition Athletics in Florida with the conversion to linebacker on his mind. Drills improving his sideline-to-sideline speed and ability to drop back into pass coverage have been his top priorities, and although Acho said there has been a bit of an adjustment, he's confident he can play either position effectively.
"I think the toughest part will be seeing the game from a different perspective; I'm so used to seeing the game as a defensive end," he explained. "It'll be a little bit different seeing it as an outside linebacker, probably playing a little bit slower with my hand up. I think it'll be a little different but I think I'll be able to make the transition pretty smoothly."