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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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An unlikely contributor

Walk-on+wide+out+Boone+Neiderhofer+had+73+recieving+yards+against+SMU+Saturday
Walk-on wide out Boone Neiderhofer had 73 recieving yards against SMU Saturday

In Texas A&M’s Air Raid offense, wide receivers are always at a premium. Consistently using four and five wide receiver sets, the Aggies are known for spreading the ball around to a variety of playmakers, ensuring defenses are unable to key in on any one player.
With the way A&M has recruited the last two years — particularly at the wide-out spot — it’s difficult to imagine that walk-ons would play any type of role in the Aggies high-flying offense. However, walk-on Travis Labhart was one of Johnny Manziel’s favorite targets last year, totaling 626 yards and eight touchdowns while earning a starting spot for the final six games of the season.
This year, another walk-on is making waves at receiver — San Antonio native sophomore Boone Niederhofer, who is tied for third on the team with 12 receptions and scored the first touchdown of his career against Lamar.
Against SMU, Niederhofer tied Malcome Kennedy with a game-high six receptions, and finished with 73 yards, just behind the senior’s 76.
“Boone made me so proud last Saturday,” Kennedy said. “A lot of people don’t see how hard some of these other receivers work in practice. Boone reminds me so much of Labhart from a walk-on standpoint. Ever since Boone got here, I knew his talent. It was just a matter of the coaches being able to trust him being a non-scholarship player and being consistent, and he’s done that. He’s been playing like this for two years now, people just haven’t seen it. Now it’s finally paying off and I’m glad it’s paying off for him.”
Sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill also offered praise for Niederhofer, making further comparisons to Labhart.
“He doesn’t like to say a whole lot, but if you get him by himself he’ll talk your ear off,” Hill said. “He’s a cool kid and we all love him here and we know he can be a stud. It’s kind of like [Labhart] from last year. He’s going to go out there and work hard every day and make plays for us, and he’s one of those guys that’s also under the radar.”
Niederhofer doesn’t mind the comparisons to Labhart.
“Any comparison to [Labhart] — I just take it as a huge compliment,” Niederhofer said. “[Labhart’s] a great guy and a great player.”
Niederhofer’s journey to A&M was a bit unexpected as he planned to follow his family’s tradition of attending Abilene Christian and had no other offers to play football out of high school.
“Coming out of high school, it was always my dream to play Division I football,” Niederhofer said. “Texas A&M was a great place to come. It was their first year in the SEC, and no one really knew we were going to be this good. My whole family has gone to Abilene Christian, and it was really just between the two.”
When asked what helped him through the difficulties that can accompany the life of a walk-on, Niederhofer cited his roommates, a trio of Aggie football players that are also fellow walk-ons.
“For me, it really helps to have a good group of friends, my roommates Taylor Martinez, Connor McQueen and Brice Dolezal,” Niederhofer said. “We’re all going through it together, so when you have people going through it with you it’s definitely a lot easier. We’re all on the same schedule — if I were to have [different] roommates, they would be staying up a lot later and stuff like that. We’re all going to bed early, we’re all working hard so it’s definitely good to have them as my roommates.”
Dolezal also scored his first career touchdown against Lamar, but Niederhofer was quick to let his roommate know who the first member of their household was to put points on the board for the Aggies.
“Brice has been on the travel squad for the past couple of years, and this is my first year traveling,” Niederhofer said. “We were just kind of joking around about how I scored right before him even though he’s been playing more than me.”
While Niederhofer said the journey of a walk-on is tough, confidence is the most important key to success.
“You’ve just got to believe in yourself, you’ve got to know that you have to work hard,” Niederhofer said. “It’s definitely a grind the first couple of years, but if you work hard and have the talent, you can do whatever you want to.”

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