A former prep baseball standout who at one point was drawing comparisons to major league slugger Gary Sheffield, Teich enters 2009 as Navy's projected starting fullback. I caught up with the athletic runner recently, and got the lowdown on both his first year at Navy and his expectations for the coming fall.
On his initial attraction to Navy:
"Coach O'Rourke came out to our spring practice one time to see me, and boy, let me tell you that I didn't even have a clue about the Naval Academy. I guess it wasn't really until my visit and when I got to see the place that I was like ‘dang!' [USNA] is so historical and it has so many good things to offer…They were winning, and the chance to play Division I football…I mean that was one of the more attractive things to me, [along with] the chance to play on TV and to travel to some big time places like Notre Dame."
On committing to Navy:
"Navy was the first school I visited, and it ended up being my only visit just because I fell in love with it when I came here. They talk about your future here, and they let you know it's a sure thing. You can go to another school and get a degree, but then you've got to go out and try to find a job. Here, well you come out with a job...it's just a great deal."
On whether or not the military and academic components of Navy scared him:
"Academically it scared me a little bit, just because I had never been very good academically…but I made a promise to myself that I would work hard to make sure I could make it through this place. Militarily it didn't bother me. I grew up with a lot of discipline, so it didn't scare or bother me too much."
"I would say [that I thrive off of discipline]. I've always done what I've been told and I like doing things the correct way and the right way."
On the NAPS experience:
"Going to NAPS helped me out immensely. I really didn't know what life in the military was like because I didn't really have any family members in the military. Militarily, it helped out big time because coming in I really had no clue. And with academics, I really didn't realize how hard it was going to be, so NAPS helped me with how I was going to approach the Naval Academy. I struggled [at NAPS] when I first started, but once I got my study habits down it really helped me out…From a football standpoint I had never run in this kind of offense in high school or never even really saw it, so NAPS helped me out there too. [Navy strength coach Mike Brass] helped me out a lot, too. I got so much stronger and faster with just working out and getting ready to come here."
"I was excited going into last year, but at the same time I was maybe a little overwhelmed with school and with all the things we have to do in the hall. I think it just took me by surprise a little bit. You really have to stay on top of your game with things like your schoolwork, and football sort of takes away from some of that time…I didn't do so well at first with school and everything, but looking back I think I handled it pretty well and even had some fun."
"I just keep working hard. I know there is always going to be someone out there working harder than me, so that just drives me everyday. I want to be the fastest guy on the field, and everything we do I try to do 110% percent. I don't ever take a day off or rest…with everything I do I try to be the best at everything. That's just kind of the approach that I take with everything in my life. I give everything 110% effort no matter what."
Thoughts on preseason previews:
"I don't get why everybody keeps picking Air Force to beat us."
On the perception that he won't be able to replace Eric Kettani's production in 2009:
"Eric was a great fullback, but I don't think I'll be the same type of fullback as him. I'll be a different type…but I think [the national writers] say that about a lot of fullbacks at Navy, and how the team wouldn't be able to replace a Ballard, or an Eckel, or whoever. You know I've learned some valuable things from Kettani – just things about being an athlete and a student at Navy. I don't listen too much to what people say. I feel I have had doubters all my life, with people always saying I was too small or too slow or whatever was the case. I don't really listen to all of that, and I think we'll do just fine."
On questions about his durability in the offense:
"In high school I used to carry the ball 30 something plus times a game, so I was used to getting hit. Taking a beating in this offense doesn't really concern me too much. I mean I could see the toll it took on Eric throughout the year, but that is why I've tried to put on more weight this offseason; so I can handle taking that pounding and the physicality of the game. I feel like I am kind of a physical runner and that is part of my nature. I like being physical."
On the possibility of being the next in line in the tradition of great Navy fullbacks:
"It's a huge honor. Navy has always had a tradition of great fullbacks and I want to carry that on. When I get done [my career at Navy], I want people to talk about me like they talk about Eric and Ballard and Eckel and those guys…you know I don't feel like the tradition overshadows me or scares me. I like it and it drives me. I like to listen to people who say that ‘he can't do that' or ‘he won't be as good as him.' That's fine with me. I'll just work my butt off and we'll see what happens."
On his personal goals for 2009:
"I'd like to rush for 1000 yards. Eric was so close last year and I would like to get there. Personally, I want to win every game. I don't like to lose. I hate losing."
"Not one Texas school recruited me. It kind of puts a chip on my shoulder, too."
On the Ohio State game:
"We talk about it everyday. I love it. I can't wait, and I think it's going to be a blast. Just the experience of getting ready to play…I mean I'm coming to win, and I know this team is coming to win. People have already written us off like the game is over and they are playing USC already, but that's fine. That's how everybody does it. We're just going to play hard and I am excited."