MOORHEAD — Jack Teiken was too young to remember his first football game. The sport has been his whole life.
The godson of Concordia Cobbers head football coach Terry Horan, Teiken spent his childhood at Jake Christiansen Stadium, watching the game or throwing a ball around with some buddies behind the turf.
He was always going to be a football player.
“I’ve been going to Concordia games since I could walk,” said Teiken, a junior at Moorhead. “My dad was a graduate from there, and Terry is one of his very best friends. I was kind of born into it.”
Football occupied Teiken’s time and the family’s TV every weekend. As far back as he can remember, Saturdays and Sundays were spent watching football with his dad, who played baseball for Concordia. They’ve bonded over football.
“That’s probably one of my favorite parts about the game, is getting to share it with him,” Teiken said.
From the time Teiken was 7 years old, he and his dad made it a tradition to go to a college football game every year, visiting different venues across the country together. The first trip was to Albertsons Stadium, home to Boise State, where Teiken will be next month for his own visit.
Teiken was playing organized football with pads by fourth grade. He was always one of the bigger kids, and quickly became a staple on the defensive line.
All grown up now, Teiken is one of the area’s top college football prospects. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound defensive end has 10 NCAA Division I offers, five of which are from Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
Teiken finished his junior season for the Spuds with 21 tackles, nine of them for losses, seven sacks and a forced fumble. Moorhead won all six regular-season games this season, as well as its lone playoff game against Alexandria.
He holds FBS offers from the University of Wyoming, University at Buffalo, Army West Point, Air Force and Central Michigan. Teiken has five Football Championship Subdivision offers, all of which are from Missouri Valley Football Conference schools, including North Dakota State and North Dakota.
‘Showing he wants it, too’
Moorhead head football coach Kevin Feeney got to know Teiken in middle school. Right away, he noticed there was something different about him.
“You could tell he was a very mature young man, both mentally and physically, and very goal-oriented,” Feeney said. “I think at a very young age he put in his mind that he wanted to be a college football player.”
Teiken made noticeable strides at the end of his sophomore year, his first varsity season, Feeney said. Moorhead made it to the Class 5A state semifinals that year in 2019, and Teiken played a role in that playoff push as an underclassman. With his size factor and the success he had that sophomore season, Feeney knew he had the measurables to play at a high level of college football.
“His willingness and craving that knowledge on how to get better every single day in practice and in the weight room, I think that was where I was like, OK, not only is this kid saying that he wants it, but he’s showing that he wants it, too,” Feeney said.
Teiken has always been eager to learn. Over the years, Feeney said he’s seen Teiken ask his position coaches “a million questions.”
“Jack is a great, humble kid, and I think that’s the beauty of him, is he realizes that football is the ultimate team sport,” Feeney said. “You need the guys around you, you need your coach. I think he really understands that and he’s developed into a great leader within our program.”
Teiken’s dream has never been to play at a certain level. He just wanted to play football as much and as long as he could.
“I love the game and I love to play. As I continued to grow I thought maybe this was possible,” Teiken said of playing at a high level. “When I started middle school, it kind of developed as a dream of mine and I just started working really hard at it.”
Teiken’s teammate, Austin Altepeter, has also gotten plenty of recruiting attention. A 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior linebacker, Altepeter holds four Division I offers, three from MVFC programs and an FBS offer from Eastern Michigan of the Mid-American Conference.
Gearing up for eventful summer
Teiken will be busy this summer. Because of COVID-19 and the pandemic-induced recruiting dead period, he hasn’t been on a single visit or spoken with anyone in-person. But that’ll change soon. Recruiting activities can resume June 1, and Teiken’s calendar is almost entirely filled.
He has several visits scheduled for next month and will be making the trips, many of which will be out West, with his parents.
“We’ve been looking forward to this since I started this whole dream of wanting to play Division I football,” Teiken said of his family. “We’ve really been hoping to experience this together and will finally be able to do it. It’s kind of like a dream come true for us.”
Teiken has three visits scheduled for the first week of June. He’ll start at North Dakota State, then head to Laramie, Wyoming, and from there, will make a trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado. After the Air Force visit, Teiken will make an unofficial visit to Boise, Idaho. He’ll be in Grand Forks a couple days later, and the week after that, he plans to conclude the month of June with a trip to West Point, N.Y.
His decision probably won’t come for some time. He’s waiting to go on his visits before deciding anything. But when he does, Teiken said it’ll be based on where he feels like he could “fit in the best.”