Texas Longhorns junior DS Nate Boyer has been named a 2012-13 Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year, the conference office announced Monday. Kansas State senior golfer, Whitney Pyle, was also selected as the conference's other Sportsperson of the Year.
The Sportsperson of the Year Awards began in 2000-01 to annually recognize student-athletes who displayed an extraordinary degree of sportsmanship and/or community service during the academic year. This year's winners were selected by a media panel.
Boyer becomes the third Longhorns football player and the fourth University of Texas student-athlete to earn the award. Soccer's Kylie Doniak was named Sportsperson of the Year in 2011-2012, as was former Longhorn DE Sam Acho in 2010-11 and former FB Ahmard Hall in 2004-05. Boyer now qualifies as a nominee for the NCAA Sportsmanship Award.
"We are so fortunate to have Nate as a member of our team. He is a tremendous student-athlete who works extremely hard, is dedicated, committed, and serves as a great leader for everyone in our program," said Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown.
"Nate sets a tremendous 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."
Boyer is a fourth-year player who served as the No. 1 long snapper on PAT/FGs during 2012. He began his Longhorn career as a walk-on after serving in the United States Army prior to enrolling at Texas.
Boyer uses his military background to motivate and lead his team, putting long, tough days in perspective by sharing his experiences overseas. He is often referred to by teammates as "Army" and "America," counts Pat Tillman as his hero, and before games proudly carries the American flag onto the field. He also makes regular visits with the team to the Dell Children's Medical Center to comfort and inspire the patients there.
For his efforts, Boyer was named the 2012 Disney Spirit Award recipient given annually by Disney Sports to college football's most inspirational figure. He also was selected as the first Armed Forces Merit Award recipient presented in November of 2012. Created to honor an individual and/or group that has brought distinction and recognition to both their service in the armed forces and the sport of football, the award is presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). Boyer also captured the Distinguished Young American Award from the Austin Chapter of the National Football Foundation, and in October of 2012 was named by University of Texas President William Powers as a member of the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Veterans Committee, filling a role on the committee previously held by former Longhorn, the late Tom Landry.
Boyer, who first considered enlisting in the military in high school, joined the military at age 20 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Before that, he spent a great deal of time coaching autistic children through therapy sessions and later provided aid to refugee camps in the Darfur region in Sudan.
After basic training, Boyer joined the Army's Special Forces. He spent six years on active duty, earning a Bronze Star for his service in the Middle East.
Upon completion of his enlistment, Boyer wanted a new challenge. He was a multi-sport athlete, playing basketball and baseball for Valley Christian High School in Dublin, California, but not football because the school didn't have a team. Without ever having played football, the then-29-year-old decided to walk on at Texas in 2010. While serving overseas, he had often watched Longhorns games and had developed an affinity for Texas as an institution.
The Oak Ridge, Tenn., native began his football career at Texas as a defensive back for the scout team, but wanting to contribute on the field in any role possible, he saw his best path would be as a deep snapper after learning in the spring of 2012 that all of the Longhorn deep snappers were graduating. He grabbed a football and after practicing in his spare time while on deployment that summer, Boyer returned to Austin in August where the Longhorn coaches awarded him a scholarship and he became a deep snapper for placements.
Boyer was named 2012 First-Team Academic All-Big 12, is a member of the Athletics Director's Honor Roll with a 4.0 GPA and was honored this past May with the Lorene L. Rogers Scholar-Athlete Award, which recognizes a senior student-athlete who has the highest grade point average.
Along with his duties as a student and athlete, Boyer is still active with the Texas National Guard and spends his summers serving his country on missions abroad.
Boyer earned a bachelor's degree in physical culture and sports in May of 2013, however, he missed the commencement while on active duty overseas.
Courtesy University of Texas Sports Communications Department