FORT WORTH, Tex. (KBTX) - Dat Nguyen is one of the best to ever grace the gridiron at Texas A&M. He finished his career with 517 tackles, which is still the most in school history.
Given his legacy, it may come as a surprise that after his first year at Texas A&M, he thought about quitting the team.
"I think I struggled. There were doubts. There were questions about maybe quitting, at one time transferring to another school and leaving A&M. When I go back to that time -- I wasn't a happy person -- I was miserable," said Nguyen.
"There were five linebackers signed. We didn't have Twitter, we didn't have Facebook, so we didn't know who all signed, who all committed. When I got to campus, there were five linebackers. They played this famous 3-4 defense which meant only four linebackers would get to play, so someone would to be the odd man out. That first year, I was the odd man out," explained Nguyen.
But When Nguyen got his opportunity, he never looked back.
"It was the Big 12 championship [against] Kansas State. They were number two at the time. We were down by fifteen points in the fourth quarter and Coach Slocum said, 'Hey, we just need to make one play,'" recalled Nguyen.
Winning the Big 12 Championship was the cherry on top of a sweet career at A&M.
Come draft day of 1999, he found out the next part of his dream was coming true.
"[At] 8:30 I got a phone call. Jerry Jones was on the line. He said 'Do you want to be a Cowboy?' Growing up in the state of Texas all you watch is the Houston Oilers or the Dallas Cowboys. I was like, "What a dream come true."
That draft day experience alone was enough to make Nguyen reflect on his journey.
"I sat back and just thought for a kid whose parents are from another country coming over here and having a kid playing the game [that is] America's sport and now to play for America's team. I said 'Wow, what an unbelievable story.'"
Nguyen played for the Cowboys for seven years. After his playing career ended, he coached for the Cowboys, then later coached at A&M.
Talk to him for just a few minutes and it's easy to see he's still passionate about coaching. Though he doesn't spend a lot of time on the field anymore, Nguyen's coaching career continues.
"I am coaching team members, people instead of players," said Nguyen.
Nguyen was awarded a franchise for a the Chick-Fil-A at Montgomery Plaza in Fort Worth in June of 2016.
"We knew it was going to be a challenge. It's still a challenge. We are still finding leaders, still finding team members, still trying to grow. At the end of the day, it goes back to as a player, it's the fans, as a restaurant owner, it's the customers," explained Nguyen.
Just like he did in football, Nguyen pours all of his energy into his restaurant.
"As long as you're impacting people, making customers happy, everything else will work out," Nguyen. "It's no different from football. If you do the right thing, work hard, don't make mistakes, you'll win games."
He admits that he has an even larger goal than just operating a great Chick-Fil- A.
"I ask God why I'm here -- it's to impact people, to help people, to give them a chance in life. I think that's what I'm trying to do. Slowly but surely to help them find Jesus," explained Nguyen.
Even though he stays busy, Nguyen aims to make his family a priority. He loves spending time with Becky, his wife of 17 years, and their five children.
In December of 2017, Dat Nguyen will be inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame.