SAN ANTONIO Retired Army Reserve Maj. Rick Teller got choked up while talking about his son, Wyatt, the lone military brat among 90 players in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Hes always been a little trooper, the elder Teller said of his son who will take his defensive end skills from Liberty High School in Bealeton, Va., to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg next season. He loved to hit, but he was always the first one to pick up somebody when he knocked them down. Hes a great kid.
No longer a little trooper, Teller stands 6 feet, 5 inches tall and tilts the scales to 275 pounds. His favorite pastimes are hunting, fishing and devouring quarterbacks, not necessarily in that order.
Between signing autographs and posing for photographs, Wyatt gave both his shoes and socks to kids who needed something for him to sign after the game Jan. 5 at the Alamodome.
Im going to Virginia Tech and we cant wear Adidas stuff, so I gave them to little kids most of them were like 7 or 8 years old, said barefooted Wyatt, who sports a Mohawk haircut.
Yeah, hes got a modified Mohawk, Rick said with a grin. For senior pictures, we told him: You are going to look at that 30 years down the pike and say: Whats up with that?
For the time being, it suits Wyatt perfectly.
Its a perfect football haircut, yep, his dad said.
Rick served four years of active duty with the United States Marine Corps, followed by three years with the Virginia Army National Guard.
I thought the Guard was the Virginia Marine Corps found out it wasnt, he said. When I found out it was the Army, I thought I might as well go into the Army Reserve because you could go anywhere in the country instead of just Virginia.
The Tellers moved from Manassas to Warrenton and later made West Virginia stops in Beckley and Salem. Rick did a stint at the Pentagon and another at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania.
I was all over the place and I still had a civilian job, he said. Luckily, most of that was with my older kids.
Wyatt, the youngest of four siblings, was born in 1994 and Rick retired in 1998. Wyatt played football in Fauquier County youth leagues and at Taylor Middle School in Warrenton. By the end of his freshman season at Liberty High, he was promoted to the varsity squad.
He was a little monster, from about 5 or 6 when he put on pads, Rick said. He plays hard.
Wyatt was recruited by at least 19 colleges and universities. He made road trips to South Bend, Ind., Columbus, Ohio, and Columbia, S.C. Nifty letters arrived from Palo Alto, Calif., and Eugene, Ore.
We wanted to go a lot more places, but he didnt really like it, Rick said. He wanted to stay closer to home. Wyatt narrowed his finalists to the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Really, we thought it was going to be Virginia, and Virginia is the closest to home so we werent upset about that, Rick said. But Virginia Tech has a much better football program and they have more things that hes interested in. Although he likes to wear a bow tie, hes more of a hunter and a fisher. Tech is in the mountains down there and he loves that kind of stuff.
Rick embraced the military lifestyle and tried to instill his son with its work ethic.
I loved the Army, loved the Marine Corps have both stickers on the car, he said. I enjoyed my time.
Wyatt said he enjoyed his military upbringing.
Its great to have a military dad, he said. He definitely makes sure I say Yes, sir and Yes, mam. Its definitely something hes helped me out with. Growing up in the military, Im used to the colors and the cammo and everything like that, but it is awesome being around guys who fight for our country people who put their life on the line for us to play football. Without them, the Under Armour Bowl couldnt happen, the Semper Fidelis Bowl couldnt happen, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl definitely couldnt happen, so Im eternally grateful.
Wyatt also was proud of his East squad for prevailing, 15-8, against the West.
I was going to be a little upset if we lost, 8-7, but our backs were against the wall and we scored, Wyatt said. I couldnt have been happier.
It feels like yesterday I barely knew any of these guys. Its just gone too fast.