English played all four years at Texas under legendary coach Darrell K. Royal, including Royal’s last season in 1976, and showers his coaches with all the credit for his success.
“More than anything, it’s a referendum on coaches,” English said. “There’s a coach that’s touched my life every step of the way.
“Take any one of those coaches away, and I’m not here.”
English was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
Despite his accomplishments, both as a college and professional athlete, English didn’t always imagine a future where he would be a world-class athlete.
“I didn't see playing in the pros coming,” English said in an interview after his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. “I didn't see playing at the University of Texas coming. The big reason is that I didn't start on any football team I was ever on until my senior year in high school. So I am probably what you call a classic late bloomer.”
English went on to play professional football for the Detroit Lions, where he gathered 59 sacks and four safeties in 131 games, but he always remained a Longhorn at heart.
“The thing about playing football at the University of Texas, is that somehow or another, the culture here has intertwined character with hard work, with humility,” English said. “Darrell Royal used to say that when you get in the end zone, act like you have been there before. Our goal was to out-work the other guy and play harder than they did.”