By Gavin Porter
For Nate Boyer, a former Special Forces Green Beret, his journey was anything but typical. Boyer walked on to the University of Texas while still serving in the U.S. Army and would go on to compete for a spot on an NFL roster.
“I never would have believed that I would have that opportunity, standing there at 34 years old,” Boyer said. “A game that I never had even played, I had never even snapped.”
Before football, Boyer was looking to find himself. He worked as a fisherman and tried becoming an actor. But after seeing some shocking images of how people were living he Darfur, he decided to help.
Boyer traveled to Africa, where he would stay for months helping anyway that he could. His passion for helping others took him to the Army, where the motto of the U.S. Special Forces caught his attention.
De oppresso liber. “To free the oppressed”
“That motto alone just hit me. I was like, ‘Wow,’ ” Boyer said. “That’s what I want to do. Those people that are captive I just want to free them.”
Out of the 157 men who entered the grueling months of training, only 11 graduated as Green Berets. Boyer was one of them.
After four years of serving his country, Boyer began searching for a new field of battle to conquer. His search ended when he decided to try out for the Texas Longhorns.
With no football background whatsoever, Boyer tapped into his dedication and transformed himself into a football player. He managed to make the team and then proceeded to switch from safety to long snapper.
Boyer still was a member of the National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan in the summers between seasons. But that didn’t stop him from reaching his goals. He took a couple balls with him, and whenever he had a spare moment, he practiced long snapping.
Upon returning, just in time for training camp, Boyer won the starting job at long snapper. He would go on to start 38 games at the position, including a victory in the 2012 Alamo Bowl.
To Boyer, playing at Texas was incredible, but he did not know if he could make it at the NFL level. Not because he did not think he could do it but because of size and weight barriers.
Some scouts at the Medal of Honor Bowl, an all-star game for seniors, told him to go for it. So he did.
And like every other obstacle previously in his way, he persevered and did everything in his power to succeed.
His message during his speech was simple. Never get up and pass the torch.
“People like you inspire me, this game inspires me,” Boyer said. “Keep fighting the good fight. This game is not going away.”