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Liberty’s Wyatt Teller plays new position in Army all-American game

Wednesday, Jan. 16 | By Jeff Malmgren
Wyatt Teller played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 5 --Photo courtesy of U.S. Army All-American Bowl
Wyatt Teller accepted a challenging new role when he showed up to play in one of the most prestigious high school football games in the country Jan. 5 in San Antonio.

It was like arriving at the Kentucky Derby and learning he had to switch from rider to horse.

After playing his entire career as a defensive end at Liberty High, Teller moved to defensive tackle for the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome.

Despite playing a new position in the nationally-televised game, he helped his East team beat the West, 15-8, and he enjoyed his week-long experience in Texas.

“It was definitely a football high,” said Teller, a Virginia Tech recruit. “It was really cool just to represent Virginia Tech, and represent Fauquier County, and represent Virginia. … It was fun playing with [all-Americans] and getting coached by some of the best high school coaches in the nation, and talking to the [Army] veterans.”

Teller played much of the first and fourth quarters for an East team that held the West scoreless until only 6 minutes, 49 seconds remained in the game. The East limited the West to only 19 rushing yards and 71 passing yards.

Teller started at defensive tackle with Kenny Bigelow (Wilmington, Del.) because Al-Quadin Muhammad (Irvington, N.J.) and Jonathan Allen (Leesburg, Va.) started at defensive end.

“The defensive ends were a lot faster than I was, and I was one of the faster defensive tackles,” said Teller, 6-foot-5, 275 pounds. “I was always the smallest one.”

The All-American selection committee described him in their press material as talented enough to play anywhere on the defensive line, writing, “Teller is a physical lineman who could play outside or inside at the college level. He is very imposing and has tremendous strength but he also has a nice array of pass rushing moves to get to the quarterback. Against the run he is very strong at the point of attack.”

So Teller arrived in Texas on Dec. 30 and spent six days preparing to play defensive tackle for the first time against some of the best high school players in America.

“Learning a new position in a week, learning the new techniques, it was hard,” he said. “I’m used to [lining up against] tight ends who are 240 pounds and now it’s against guys that are 340 and stronger than me. Trying to fight the double team, I wasn’t used to it. But I still had so much fun.”

Teller and his fellow all-Americans played in front of an Alamodome crowd of 40,133 people. That audience dwarfed the largest crowd he played for as a Liberty Eagle. Even the high-intensity Fauquier Times-Democrat Bird Bowl drawls less than 6,000 fans.

“The week before I was like ‘Geez, I don’t know how I’m going to do this with 40,000 people there and millions on national TV,'” he said. “But it didn’t really cross your mind out there” on the field.

Leading up to the game, the East players woke up at 6 a.m. each day and went through two-a-day practices.

“After practice we’d come home and have dinner. They’d take us to amazing steak houses and beautiful restaurants,” Teller said. “Everything the whole week was amazing.”

He left with an array of Army and Adidas gear, including numerous jerseys, footwear like cleats and sandals, and luggage.

“Anything a football player could want,” Teller said. “They gave us about 100 sweat bands. I don’t even know what you need that many sweat bands for, but it was awesome.”

He wore a No. 57 jersey during the game.

Liberty coach Sean Finnerty, Teller’s parents and other relatives made the trip to Texas to watch him play.

Friends back home in Virginia filled his Twitter and Facebook feeds with messages that he read after the game.

“Without all the support I wouldn’t have anything,” Teller said. “God has blessed me with so much. … Three, four years ago I didn’t even know if I’d play in college, and now being one of the top American football players, it’s awesome.”

Teller is now taking a break from playing all-star games and will make his official visit to Virginia Tech from Jan.25-26. Then he’ll play Feb. 5 in the International Bowl in Austin, Texas as a member of the 2013 U.S. Under-19 National Team.

“January is going to be a big month,” Teller said. “To play in the U.S. all-American [game], it blows my mind. To play on Team USA, it blows my mind.”

Email the reporter: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) / On Twitter @jeffmalmgren
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