William James Atessis (born July 16, 1949) is a former American football player who played on two NCAA national championship teams at the University of Texas. One of the most honored and productive defensive ends in NCAA history, he was a three-year starter and was second-team All-America as a junior who was a consensus All-American as a senior. He currently resides in Houston, Texas.
Atessis attended Jesse Jones High School, in Houston. He graduated in 1967. He was a Texas All-State tackle in 1966. Atessis was the state's number one lineman in the recruiting class of 1967. He was an all-around athlete who excelled in football, baseball, and basketball. He was inducted to the Texas High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. In 1996 was named as one of the best lineman in the history of Texas high school football, ranking second on the Houston Chronicle list.
Atessis was a member of teams which set a school record 30-game winning streak that currently stands as the twelfth-longest in NCAA history and was a three-year letterman and three-year starter at left defensive end. Including two years as a starter on the back-to-back National Champion Texas Longhorns teams of 1969 and 1970. Was voted Longhorn Defensive MVP by the Dallas Morning News and Houston Post both in 1969 and 1970.
The Longhorns also won three consecutive Southwest Conference championships and appeared in three consecutive Cotton Bowl Classic games, winning two during that time. Was a consensus 1st Team All-American in 1970 and was second team All-American in 1969. in 1970 he was voted Southwest Conference Co-Lineman of the Year (with Arkansas All-American Defensive end, Dick Bumpas). Consensus All-SWC choice in 1969 and 1970. Also was a finalist for Outland Trophy and finished fifth in the voting for the UPI Lineman of the Year, both in 1970.
Played in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, in January 1971. Is a member, University of Texas Men's Athletics Hall of Honor, being voted in during 2001. Texas Coach Darrell Royal called him a, "Super player, who hasn't played a bad game in three years." Played in the Coaches' All-America Game in Lubbock, Texas, June 28, 1971. Singled out for his "tremendous game" by the Odessa American as worthy of the player of the game award.
He was highly regarded after a stellar collegiate career. Was drafted by the NFL Champion Baltimore Colts. He was injured in training camp and released in mid-season. Played defensive end for the Patriots in 1971. Asked to drop weight and move to outside linebacker, a position he had never played. Left camp in July 1972, and was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals. Was moved to offensive line there and asked to gain back the weight he lost to play linebacker. Was injured again and released by Cards. Signed as a defensive tackle by the Jets for the 1973 season yet was cut in training camp.
Second-round draft choice by NFL Baltimore Colts (52nd overall pick) on January 28, 1971
Added to the injured waived list by the Colts on September 9, 1971.
Placed on injured reserve by the Colts on September 16, 1971.