We’re always happy to pay tribute to the giants of the past whose shoulders we proudly stand on. With a tradition of recognizing and honoring the accomplishments of the brightest and best from our industry, we are happy to present the past winners below. If you’d like more information, feel free to get in touch.
Dat Nguyen, born on September 25, 1975, in Fort Smith, Arkansas, was a linebacker at Texas A&M University and an exceptional player throughout his career. He played professionally in the NFL for seven seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. At Texas A&M, Nguyen earned unanimous All-American honors and became the first Vietnamese-American to be drafted, played, and recognized as an All-Pro in the NFL. In 2017, he was rightfully elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Nguyen's journey began when his family left South Vietnam during the fall of Saigon, and he was born in a refugee center in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He grew up in Rockport, Texas, where he attended Rockport-Fulton High School. Excelling as a middle linebacker and punter, he earned All-State honors. Nguyen received scholarship offers from prestigious universities such as Michigan, UCLA, Notre Dame, Texas, and Florida, but he decided to stay close to home and play for Texas A&M University.
During his college career from 1995 to 1998, Nguyen proved wrong those who doubted his ability to play linebacker due to his size. Despite his muscular 5'11", 238-pound frame, he established himself as a dominant force on the field. Nguyen set records at Texas A&M, including 51 consecutive starts, 517 career tackles, and a 10.7 tackles-per-game average. He led the team in tackles for four consecutive years, becoming the undisputed leader of the famous "Wrecking Crew" defense. Nguyen received numerous awards and honors, including the Lombardi Award and a unanimous All-American recognition.
In the NFL, Nguyen was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft. He quickly made an impact, leading the team in special teams tackles as a rookie and becoming the starting middle linebacker in his second season. Nguyen's dedication and skill were evident as he consistently led the team in tackles, earning him recognition as one of the best linebackers in the league. He was selected as second-team All-Pro in 2003 and showcased his exceptional abilities on the field.
After retiring from the NFL, Nguyen transitioned into coaching. He joined the Dallas Cowboys as an assistant linebackers coach and defensive quality control coach, working alongside head coach Wade Phillips. Nguyen later returned to his alma mater, Texas A&M University, as the inside linebackers coach. His coaching career was marked by success, and he played a significant role in the team's achievements, including victories over nationally ranked teams.
Beyond football, Nguyen has made significant contributions to his community and pursued business ventures. He is actively involved in various organizations, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the San Antonio Sports Foundation. Currently, Nguyen owns and operates a Chick-fil-A franchise in Fort Worth, Texas. His dedication, leadership, and perseverance, both on and off the field, make him a remarkable individual and an inspiration to many.