AUSTIN (KXAN) -
More than a decade after the attacks, the lasting images of September 11 are still of tragedy and destruction.
But Texas deep snapper Nate Boyer looks back on that fateful day a little differently.
"Nine-eleven is a bittersweet day, actually," Boyer said. "So many good things have come out of that tragic day. That day changed my life, as it did so many other people. I definitely wouldn't be where I am right now if it had never happened."
The attacks reignited Boyer's desire to join the military.
"From the minute I joined the Army, I was doing whatever I could to get to Iraq as soon as I could," Boyer said. "That's what I wanted to do. I joined because I wanted to fight for my country. As soon as I found out I was going, I was happy."
Staff Sergeant Nate Boyer served five years on active duty in the Army, earning a bronze star for bravery.
"I'm not going to get into specifics about some of the stuff that went on overseas, but there is a lot of tragedy," Boyer said. "Just really hard stuff to take in and deal with."
When his time was up with the Army, he decided to pursue his dream of playing football. Boyer had never played before because his high school in California didn't have a team, so that meant having to walk on to a college team with no experience.
"When I was coming out of the military, and I was going to be going back to school, I figured, why not," Boyer said. "Why not give it a shot?"
"It's a pretty amazing story," Mason Walters said. "A guy that didn't play high school, to really, go through the military, do what he did. He was a top. Green Beret. Great guy. And then, really, after that, still wanting to advance his life."
After walking on in 2010 and red shirting his freshman season, Boyer served on scout team last season, and then before this season, Boyer's hard work was rewarded with a scholarship.
This past Saturday, Boyer made his first start as the deep snapper against New Mexico.
"Honestly, I was probably more nervous with that first snap Saturday night than I ever was in Iraq," Boyer said.
"I said, nuh uh, don't go there," Mack Brown said. "I don't know what you've been through, you don't need to be nervous on a football field in front of 101,000."
Boyer's biggest contribution doesn't come on special teams, though. It comes in the leadership he provides that can only come after being in combat.
"The leaders are those guys that can influence other guys to be better around them," Bryan Harsin said. "He's a guy that does that. When he talks, I shut up and listen and really take in what he has to say because I really appreciate what he has to say."
"When you say things like teamwork, comradery, dependability, those aren't just things you put on a wall," Manny Diaz said. "Those are things that cause life and death to occur. Our military forces, they've got the playbook on how to create the ultimate fighting force in this world. They can't go 11-1. They have to go 12-0 every year."
"He's like a big brother to us," Jackson Jeffcoat said. "We're lucky to have him."
A sentiment shared by the entire team.
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