Unbeknownst to Nixa coach John Perry, he helped make for a heartwarming story surrounding senior Jackson Teter during the Eagles’ summer camp.
Looking for the best way to utilize the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Teter’s talents, Perry and his staff converted Teter this year from a tight end to a defensive end.
“We're trying to get our best players on the field, so we moved him to defensive end,” Perry said.
Turns out Teter’s father, Brian, was a defensive end himself during his glory days as a prep at Boonville. Last summer, Brian passed away at the age of 45 after a five-year battle with leukemia.
Jackson is proud he will line up in his final go-around at Nixa where his father played, as well.
“I thought it would be pretty cool to play the same position my Dad did,” Jackson said of his initial thoughts about moving to defensive end. “I definitely think about him when I play. He’s motivation.”
Teter is triggering optimism he can give the Eagles the same kind of strong pass rush Dylan Nelson provided last season. Nelson collected five tackles for a loss and three quarterback sacks.
Two years ago, DeSean Downs posted 11 TFLs and three sacks for Nixa at defensive end.
Physically, Teter is of the same build as the 6-3, 210-pound Downs, who played juco ball last spring at Southwestern (Kansas).
Teter added 40 pounds to his frame over the past year.
“I was at 180 last year and now I'm 220,” he said. “I ate a lot and lifted a lot of weight. I ate a lot of protein. In the weight room, I started to move a lot more weight.”
Naturally, anyone who went a while without seeing Teter was surprised to see his body transformation.
“I hadn't seen my grandma over the winter and when she saw me she told me I was starting to look pretty big,” he said.
Teter hopes to use his combination of strength and speed to his advantage and wreck havoc in opposing backfields.
“Going up against big tackles who are huge, it's best to use your speed to get around them rather than hit them straight on,” Teter said. “I’m also trying to use my long arms to get around the outside of people. I'll make some moves with my hands and get to the quarterback.”
Even on a defense featuring a slew of stars, Teter attracted attention during summer camp.
“He's improved so much since last year and has gotten way bigger,” running back Ramone Green said. “He's a big guy now and is tough to block. I'm excited to see him play this year.”
“He’s been a big surprise,” Perry said. “He's still learning the position. He hasn't spent a lot of time over there. But he's getting better every day. He's long and lean with big and long arms. Those kind of guys are hard to block.”