Te Nguyen (pronounced Win) has been an interesting and highly effective member of the Mount Allison Mounties for the past three years and made it big during the past campaign by being the choice of coaches around the Atlantic Universities Football Conference by receiving an All-Conference award for his work as a linebacker.
The 21-year-old 5'9", 215-pound native of Oakville, Ont., is a son of Vietnamese parents who came to Canada to find a better life and have a family of five including four boys. He has the perfect build for a middle linebacker, and, with huge tackles Jacob LeBlanc and Quinn Everett providing protection, he was able to get the job done in ideal fashion throughout the 2013 campaign.
During the eight-game conference schedule Te posted some outstanding statistics and was a shoe-in for conference honours. He had four interceptions, two sacks and numerous breakups while leading the defensive troops to a record season.
But he has been shuffled around since arriving here prior to the opening of the 2011 season. First, he was thrown into the middle of the linebacking corps when incumbent Ben Halpern went down with a broken leg in the first game of the year and performed with honour, making 44 tackles and registering 3.5 sacks. During his sophomore year Te found himself on the outside as Halpern had returned and a newcomer, Deschamps came in to back up Halpern. But this did not slow down Te, who proceeded to rack up 38 tackles along with an interception and a sack.
This time he moved back into the middle without any complaints and simply performed above and beyond the call of duty.
Discussing this young man with coach Kelly Jeffrey, he said Te is a great linebacker and a leader on the team.
"He has been a three-year starter and despite his size plays a very physical game. He is as tough a player as you will find as he played the Loney Bol and Uteck Bowl with a partially torn knee."
Jeffrey says Te's understanding and preparation of the game is his strongest asset.
"As a mddle linebacker Te makes calls and adjustments for the front six and has to be perfect with his recognition of offensive formations and personnel. His combination of physical play and mental preparation makes him the perfect middle linebacker."
Te played five years at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Oakville, always as a linebacker, and seemed to take to the game quickly. He was recognized as a CIS level performer and was recruited by such schools as MacMaster, Guelph, St. F. X. and Simon Fraser, but he was captivated on his recruiting trip to Mount Allison and immediately knew where his future football playing would take place.
He says he recognized the opportunities he would enjoy attending a small school like Mount Allison, while also receiving an outstanding education. He is enrolled in the science program, majoring in biology, and has hopes of getting accepted into medical school when his undergraduate work is completed. His name may be seen on the David Sears Memorial plaque in the athletic centre as it recognizes the top academics on the football team.
Te says moving to different positions has been positive as it has given him a better perspective on how a defense should work.
He says the team's turnaround at mid-season came about because the players and coaches became fed up with the way things were going. He says they knew when they defeated SMU in their first meeting that they had the wherewithal to be much better and it was simply a matter of reassessing their situation and moving forward.
"Every player made a contribution to our success," he says, "but when quarterback Brandon Leyh found his role we were on our way. It was Brandon's âcoming out party" that really got us over the top."
But he still believes, like many of the other players, that it is the family atmosphere and closeness of the players that combine to create success.
A major contribution by Te came in the Loney Bowl when he intercepted a Jack Creighton pass late in the game after the Mounties had come from behind to take a 20-17 lead that sealed the victory and sent the Mounties to the Uteck.
Ever humble, he credits linebacker coach Pete Miller and defensive coordinator Scott Brady with "teaching me all I know about football." And he adds that the entire coaching staff shows unbelievable patience as they work to improve the play of each individual.
Planning to further build his strength and speed, Te will devote a good deal of time to the weight room during the off season and is confident his team will not only repeat but be even stronger in 2014. He realizes some holes must be filled and more depth provided but is confident the coaches will find and attract blue chip talent to Sackville - a town that he has come to respect because of its strong support and friendly atmosphere.