EDITOR’S NOTE – This is the third in the series of articles setting the stage for the announcement of the recipient of the inaugural Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America. Coordinated by the staff at the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award was created this past summer “to honor an individual and/or a group within the realm of the sport of football.” A total of 15 candidates and nominations were considered by the seven-person Armed Forces Merit Award committee made-up of FWAA members and Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl staffers. The first article (“Those Like Him”) was penned by Kirk Bohls, the FWAA’s second vice-president. The second article (“Leading A Different Charge”) was about semi-finalists Daniel Rodriguez, a decorated Army veteran playing at Clemson.
A “Unique” Longhorn, By Bill Little, University of Texas
The remarkable story of Nate Boyer, the starting deep snapper for The University of Texas Longhorns, makes him a unique candidate for the Armed Forces Merit Award as presented by the Football Writers Association of America in connection with the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
As a Green Beret Staff Sergeant, Boyer earned a Bronze Star – the fourth highest combat award given in the United States Military – during several tours of duty in the Middle East as a member of an elite Special Forces unit.
When he decided to come to The University of Texas in 2010, he brought with him the leadership skills which had made him one of the bright rising stars in the Special Forces. Boyer has continued his mission of education and training as an employee of Mission Essential Personnel, which is a leadership training group composed of former Navy SEAL and Special Forces members.
As a student at Texas, Nate has worked regularly with kids at the Dell Children's Hospital. The winner of the Distinguished Young American Award from the Austin Chapter of the National Football Foundation, he addressed high school graduates and their parents who were honored by the NFF last spring with an inspiring message of loyalty and commitment. His maturity and leadership have been an inspiration to his teammates, and the community.
A graduate of Valley Christian High School in Dublin, California, Boyer fulfilled a commitment he had made after 9/11 by joining the Army (and being selected as a Green Beret) in 2004. When he finished his second tour of duty in 2009, Boyer decided to use funds from the GI Bill to get a college education. At that point, he had never seen Austin, Texas.
A native of Oak Ridge, Tenn., Boyer had lived in California, Colorado, North Carolina, Okinawa, Japan, Africa, and Israel and had been in various countries in the Middle East. All he knew about The University of Texas came from his comrades in the far reaches of the world who had become Longhorn fans by watching games on TV. Their loyalty to the Longhorns interested him, so he applied to Texas and was accepted.
Boyer had been a good athlete in high school, but Valley Christian did not have football. But that didn’t stop him. He figured as long as he was at Texas, he should try to make the nationally ranked Longhorn football team. He studied all he could about the game, tried out as a “walk-on,” and made the team as a defensive back and special teams player.
After being honored with members of the Stadium Veterans Committee at the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Veterans Recognition Day as a freshman, Boyer was recruited in the spring of 2011 to resume his military career as a Special Forces member of the Texas National Guard. While other Longhorns seek summer employment around Austin, Nate’s “summer job” is serving his country on various missions abroad.
And when he realized last spring that all of the Longhorn deep snappers were seniors, he grabbed a football and began learning how to become a deep snapper. He took a football with him and practiced with what little spare time he had while on deployment this summer. In a popular decision with his teammates in August, the Longhorn coaches awarded Boyer a football scholarship, and he earned the job as the No. 1 deep snapper for placements for the Longhorn team.
Boyer is a member of the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll as a 4.0 student and a Provost Award semi-finalist studying physical culture and sports. In October, he was named by UT President William Powers as a member of the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Veterans Committee, filling the vacant role on the committee of a former Longhorn, the late Tom Landry.
To get more on Boyer, just go to google.com and type in Nate, Boyer, Texas. Here are a few web articles: