Texas Football Player Receives Armed Forces Merit Award
By Jack Mcbee on 11/12/2012
It’s been an emotional few days for Texas deep snapper Nate Boyer. On Saturday, he took part in an emotionally charged Texas football victory, in which Longhorn coaching legend and fellow veteran Darrell K Royal was honored.
Yesterday, the nation celebrated Boyer, who served in Iraq with the Army’s Special Forces, and the rest of the nation’s veterans. And today it was announced that, for his service both in the U.S. Armed Forces and on the football field, Boyer would become the first-ever recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award, presented by the Football Writers Association of America.
Boyer, a 31-year-old sophomore, is not new to being singled out for exemplary performance. Before attending UT, Boyer rose to the rank of staff sergeant in the Green Berets and became the youngest soldier ever to be inducted into Delta Force, an elite special operations unit focused on counterterrorism.
After completing several tours of duty in the Middle East and receiving a Bronze Star for acts of merit, Boyer returned to the States to continue his education. He chose The University of Texas not for its football prowess, but because “It’s a great academic institution.” When he walked onto the football team, he had no prior experience with the sport—he simply viewed it as another challenge to tackle.
And tackle it he did. After realizing there was a lack of deep snappers on the roster, Boyer set his mind to mastering a position he had never played—and now he’s the starting deep snapper for extra points and field goals. Coach Mack Brown attributes Boyer’s success to the “unbelievable discipline and desire” that he’s garnered through years of military service.
Boyer was chosen for the Armed Forces Merit Award by a group consisting of FWAA members and Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl officials. The award was created to honor an individual or group that has brought distinction and recognition to both their military service and football.
Boyer will be formally presented with the award at Texas’ yearly football banquet on Dec. 7. He will also be recognized during Armed Forces Bowl week, which leads up to the 10th annual Armed Forces Bowl to be held on Dec. 29.
Drawing on the characteristic of humility he’s learned both on and off the field, Boyer says he feels undeserving of the honor.
“I definitely don’t deserve it any more than any other soldier that’s serving,” he says, “but it just happens that I’m playing football, too.”
Read more about Nate Boyers’ transition from Baghdad to gridiron here.
Photo courtesy UT Athletics.