“Nate Boyer represents the strong connection between the playing field and the battlefield, and he has achieved success at the highest levels in both settings as well as in the classroom with a 3.84 GPA and now working on a graduate degree in advertising,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “He is a great role model for young people nationwide to emulate, and we are extremely grateful for the example that he has set. We look forward to shining a national spotlight on his accomplishments at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner, and presenting him the NFF Legacy Award for embodying our mission.”
Nate Boyer graduated high school unsure about his path in life. He enrolled in community college, and he tried acting in Los Angeles while caring for autistic children to pay the rent. Looking for a challenge and to make a difference, he made his way to the Darfur region of Sudan to help in the refugee camps. The experience, coupled with his memories of 9/11, inspired him to enlist in the U.S. Army as a Special Forces candidate, and he became one of 11 from his class of 150 to graduate with a Green Beret. He has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning a Bronze Star for heroism in combat.
Pausing from his military service, Boyer sought his next challenge, trying to walk-on to the Texas football team despite never having played on an organized team because his high school did not sponsor the sport. His tenacity and athletic prowess netted him a spot on the team as a defensive back, but he lacked the skills to contribute during live games. He analyzed the roster, and he saw a potential opening at long snapper. He mastered the position, earning a starting job the past two seasons. Texas head coach Mack Brown calls his story one of the most inspirational and unique he has ever seen.
“We are so fortunate to have Nate as a member of our team,” said Brown. “He is a tremendous student-athlete who works extremely hard, is dedicated, committed, and serves as a great leader for everyone in our program. Nate sets a great example for our guys and is a daily reminder of how our military personnel give so much to protect and provide us freedom. He is a great example for student-athletes across the country and someone who is worthy of any award or recognition that comes his way.”
Brown also credits Boyer's leadership and life experiences for helping the Longhorns to understand the parallel between football and the military with an emphasis on the importance of the guy on the left and on the right to the success of the unit. His contributions have earned him the honor of carrying the flag and leading the Longhorns out of the tunnel and onto the field each Saturday. During his summers, Boyer has continued his military service, including tours of duty in Eastern Europe and Greece in 2011 and 2012 as a member of a Special Forces unit of the Texas National Guard.
“No matter the size of the challenges he faces, Nate Boyer’s dedication to placing the welfare of others well ahead of himself provides an exceptional example of someone who leads from the front,” said Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who oversees the Texas National Guard. “Whether serving his country in Iraq or Afghanistan, or serving the underprivileged in places like Darfur, Nate inspires all of us to live greater, and more meaningful, lives. Texas has been honored to have been his collegiate home, and we congratulate him on this much-deserved honor.”
This past summer he completed an assignment with the elite Special Operations Joint Task Force in Afghanistan, serving with NATO Forces from May 1 through July 31. He returned to Austin just in time to start fall practice with the Longhorns August 4.
“Nate embodies the kind of selfless dedication and bravery that our military and the Special Forces strive to achieve,” said Maj. John Gianelloni, the Special Forces U.S. Special Operations Command Legislative Liaison who was involved in Boyer’s summer assignment. “I can think of no one better to be held up as a young role model for aspiring athlete-scholar-citizen-soldiers.”
A native of Dublin, Calif., Boyer graduated from Texas in May, earning a bachelor’s degree in Physical Culture and Sport Management with a cumulative GPA of 3.84. He is currently working on a post-graduate degree in advertising. In 2012-13, he was named First-Team Academic All-Big 12, as well as being a member of UT's Athletics Director's Honor Roll and the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll. Boyer’s many accolades include 2012 Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year, the 2012 Disney Spirit Award, the Armed Forces Merit Award, presented by the Football Writers Association of America, a nomination for an NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award and being named an NFF William V. Campbell Trophy semifinalist.
Throughout its history, the NFF has depended on the support of thousands of individuals and organizations to fulfill its mission of building leaders through football. The NFF Legacy Award, established in 2007, honors individuals and organizations who have made extraordinary contributions to the NFF and/or embody its mission. The past recipients of the award have never failed to answer a call of support from the NFF, and they have distinguished themselves as the most ardent of proponents of football’s unique ability to develop our next generation of great leaders. They truly stand in the vanguard of those who have strengthened the game for future generations.