Some times in life, you get a second chance in life, and it’s up to you to make the most of it.
For Canadian, Texas, weakside defensive end/running back Austin English, that second chance is an opportunity to play college football.
You see, English went through a life-changing turn of events last summer that saw him sliding down a 100-foot cliff and almost dying. English broke several vertebrae after falling down the cliff in Colorado, but he was lucky enough to survive and make it back in time to play in the second game of his junior season.
“We always go up to Colorado and go up from Gunnison to this little town that’s really remote,” English, who is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, said. “My cousins and I decided we ould test the limits this time, and we climbed up this rock face and it was 100 feet up. I just kind of moved, slipped on some lose rocks and down I went.”
English survived the fall and got an amazing second chance that few ever get in situations like his. And it’s a second chance that he’s made the most of. English rushed for 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore. He followed that up – despite missing the first game with those injuries – with 1,800 yards and 25 touchdowns.
That amazing junior season has already prompted scholarship offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri, along with heavy interest from Michigan, Penn State and Notre Dame. College coaches love his athletic ability and project English as a pass rush specialist at defensive end or linebacker.
But he’s not too shabby of a running back either. It was at running back in his first game back that English did something that you only see in movies.
“It was kind of like a movie setting,” English said. “I took the first carry after the injury 78 yards for a touchdown. I was kind of joking with coach while we were scripting the first series. I told coach ‘you don’t need to do anymore than giving me the ball, and you can stop right there. I’m taking it to the house.’
“It was a dive, and I cutback and 78 yards later I was standing in the end zone.”
Oklahoma was the first to notice and officially offer English. The offer actually came about a month ago, when coach Cale Gundy called English’s coach and let them know they were extremely interested in his ability to project on the defensive side of the ball.
“Coach Gundy called coach Lynch, and he said coach Gundy wanted me to call him,” English said. “I talked to coach Gundy for a while, and then about a week later they sent me an offer. I guess my coach sent them a tape on me, and they offered me after watching the game. I then went up there while I was on spring break, and I really liked the campus and the town.”
Oklahoma State and Missouri then followed with their offers.
“I’m definitely looking at Missouri and Oklahoma State,” he said. “I have a good chance to go in those places and play as a freshman. I could go in there, add about 20 pounds and step on the field right away. Oklahoma State hasn’t been as good as Oklahoma, but they played in a good bowl game. Missouri seems to win more games every year and things are getting better.”
Penn State and Michigan have been sending English a lot of hand-written letters also, and he has already had several talks with Penn State assistant Brian Norwood. He’s also exchanged weekly e-mails with coaches from Notre Dame, but English openly admits that the Sooners are going to be tough to beat.
“I really like Oklahoma,” he said. “I like their whole setup. I have a sister that lives in Oklahoma City. I’m leaning toward Oklahoma, but not so much that I’m going to avoid looking at other schools. But still, I’ve been extremely impressed with everything that I’ve seen with Oklahoma.”
So should we expect English to climb back up to the mountain top again? English went skiing during spring break and he admitted that the heights suddenly seemed quite a bit more intimidating.
“Maybe I’ll leave climbing to the top on the football field from now on,” English said.