Former All Pro linebacker Dat Tan Nguyen grew up along the Texas Gulf Coast in the tiny town of Rockport. Born in Arkansas as the son of Vietnamese refugees who came to America after the fall of Saigon during the Viet Nam War, Nguyen quickly adopted the “official” sport of Texas, the state where his family would eventually settle, as his own. As a prep athlete, Dat excelled as a middle linebacker for Rockport-Fulton High School. His success earned him high level recruiting attention from many top schools, but Dat chose to remain close to his family by enrolling at Texas A&M.
At just 5’11” and less than 240 pounds, Dat Nguyen was considered too small for the position he played, but the solidly-built linebacker set about proving his detractors wrong. He became the only player to lead the Aggies in tackles each of his four seasons in maroon. By the time he was finished chalking up honors during his collegiate career, Nguyen was a consensus All American and was he named as the winner of the Bednarik Award for the college defensive player of the year. In the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft, Dat Nguyen became the first Vietnamese-American player in the National Football League when the Dallas Cowboys called his name.
As a Cowboy, Dat began his career as a “teams” guy as a rookie before being named as the starter at middle linebacker during his second professional season. As he had been at A&M, Dat soon became the leader of the Dallas defense. Over the course of a seven-year career that was cut short due to injuries that took their toll on his undersized frame, Dat lead the Cowboys in tackles three times. Along the way he was named All Pro after a stellar 2003 campaign in which he led the Boys to being the outstanding defense in the league. For his career, Dat recorded 516 tackles, which ranks him tenth in team history despite an abbreviated career in which he was only able to complete four full seasons as a starter.
Following his retirement in 2006, Dat joined the staff of former Dallas head coach Wade Phillips for the 2007 season as the assistant linebackers and quality control coach. He remained on Phillips staff until early in 2010 when he left to return to his alma mater as the inside linebackers coach in College Station. During his tenure as an Aggie coach, Dat was responsible for the development of Von Miller who won the Butkis Award as the nations top linebacker. He resigned from Texas A&M with the hiring of Kevin Sumlin as the current A&M coach.
Dat Nguyen is currently the host of a sports radio talk show in San Antonio, but for a moment on Friday night he will once again step into the national spotlight when he takes center stage at Radio City Music Hall to announce the name of the player who will soon follow in his footsteps as a Dallas Cowboy. Cowboys Nation will be holding its breath as Dat speaks the words ” With the 47th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select DeMarcus Lawrence”