Teton Saltes - University of New Mexico - Offensive Line

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

The University of New Mexico's Junior Right Tackle, Teton Saltes, is one of the nine Wuerffel Trophy semifinalists for 2019.

Teton is working on his double majors, Political Science and Native American Studies. He was a 2017 and 2018 Lobo Scholar-Athlete and a 2018 @mountainwestconference All-Academic selection.

Saltes has only allowed six pressures in 2019. That’s tied for second among tackles in the Mountain West. His pass blocking efficiency is 98.5.

When Teton is not playing guitar, piano or the saxophone, he works with the @savethechildren Action Network, is a trained volunteer and peer mentor for the Suicide Prevention Hotline, and plays a big role in working to create the @lakota_dream_museum and Monument in South Dakota.


  • 3.38 GPA - Double major: Political Science and Native American Studies

  • A 2016-17 and 2017-18 Lobo Scholar-Athlete

  • 2017-18 Mountain West All-Academic selection

  • An extremely well-rounded individual who is self-taught in several musical instruments (guitar, piano and saxophone)


  • 2 year starter on offensive line

  • Has allowed just six pressures in 2019 (one hit, five hurries) and that is tied for second-best among tackles in the Mountain West with at least 100 pass blocking attempts.  

  • Pass blocking efficiency is 98.5, third-best.


So I was going to list this out, but I think it's more powerful for Teton's own words to be heard here, so this is a copy and paste of what he sent to me.  I have not edited it at all.

"I have participated in community and volunteer work for the following organizations:  Oglala Sioux Tribe Sweetgrass Project which works in Suicide Awareness and Suicide Prevention. I have been trained and volunteered to work the Suicide Prevention Hotline as Peer Mentor and have gone into schools to speak on Suicide Awareness and Prevention on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and other Indian Reservations within South Dakota.  I have also volunteered with Oglala Lakota Schools by speaking with school aged children on the struggles they face in life on the reservation and on bullying and how it effects as kids and tools to cope with Bullying.


Every time I return to the reservation, I give my time to continue the volunteer work I do with the Sweetgrass Project and the local schools. I am actively involved in the community through the BEAR Program (Be Excited About Reading). I am a Peer Mentor and work with youth in the summer, on school breaks and through an online program in improving reading skills. In the BEAR Program we also perform live theatrical skits with props and costumes to address bullying, suicide and home life issues.  I work closely with suicide providers teaching life skills and providing support as I have completed ASSIST Training through the program. Through the BEAR Program we also conduct winter coats and clothing drives in which I support and assist from my college campus in New Mexico.   We also support the community on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation by collecting food for the Food Bank we operate out of our community center for families in need.

I have been an advocate for the Teens on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to get out and vote and why taking part in the voting system matters and how it affects their lives.  I participated in getting those eligible to vote registered.  I am actively representing the youth on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as being a voice in providing ideas and suggestions on Constitutional Reform happening with in the Oglala Lakota Nation Tribal Council.  

I have played an incredibly active role in working to create the Lakota Dream Museum and Monument; the first Native American owned and operated Lakota Museum located in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I played a role in interviewing elders, gathering history and collecting artifacts as well as bringing the history of the Lakota People to life. When I return home from college, I am a tour guide at the Lakota Museum and enjoy speaking to the youth and tourists about the artifacts and history within the museum.

For the first time in years our village or community had joined together to create a Christmas environment for the community members, so we hung Christmas lights on all the street poles in town and hosted a Christmas in the village party with music, Santa Claus, gifts and a free meal. This led to volunteering to deliver over 700 Christmas presents and holiday meals to families all across the Pine Ridge Reservation.

I have also been conducting motivational speaking throughout many different schools across multiple states. Most recently, I have a keynote speech in Santa Fe and I spoke about the importance of being involved in your community and completing your education because they can make a difference today.  I am a student ambassador for the Save the Children Action network and have attended lobbying activities in Washington DC to promote early education which involved working closely with our US Congressional Reps in developing Policy.  

I initiated meetings with "Save the Children Action Network" to promote working closely with many of the Native American Communities on the reservations through out the United States because many of those communities are like third work countries.  We have been reviewing potential legislation and initiatives that would fit into the scope of "Save the Children" organization. This is an ongoing process that I will continue to work closely with the program on achieving.

With UNM Football I have volunteered to work with feeding the homeless in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I currently volunteer my time with The Lakota Dream Museum in putting many of the stories from the Lakota Elders into writing so their stories and history can be shared at the Museum.  I have written down many of the stories on the Ft. Laramie Treaty and the Little Big Horn.  When home in South Dakota, I have volunteered my time to give group tours at the Museum to visitors to be able to share the beautiful history of the Lakota People from the eyes of the Lakota's themselves. I have taken the time to help the Elder initiatives' and Cultural Leaders by working to cut wood for Lakota ceremonies and for elderly homes in the winter."

"Teton is a person that people gravitate to, whether it's talking to children, or adults.  I've been in football for 22 years and the SID business for 28, and I've never seen a football coach do what Bob Davie did, which is to let Teton miss about a week of Spring Practice to travel to Washington D.C. to meet with representatives in Congress and the Senate on behalf of the Save the Children Network, advocating for children who needed their voices heard.

Teton as a freshman was lost for the season due to a knee injury.  Since he was out and it was November, which is Native American Heritage Month, Coach Davie gave the OK for Teton to do a live interview during the game with Molly McGrath of ESPN, talking about why he wants to earn a law degree.   I will include that video in the nomination in the appropriate place.

Teton also has been interviewed in many other formats and settings.  This article is from the Coloradoan:


This from the Albuquerque Journal: https://www.abqjournal.com/1211712/deep-family-roots-keep-lobos-saltes-grounded.html

I added all of the videos below to show how well rounded he is.  He's a football player, but he will  tell you he is more, and he has used the platform of football to start the work of making change for Native Americans.  However, he isn't just about that.  He's about being a voice for those without one.  He is so passionate about the Save the Children Action Network and how he was able to be a political voice for children.

There is zero doubt that Teton Saltes is worthy of winning the Wuerffel Trophy, and should he win, it will just continue his journey and work in raising awareness for children without a voice, and it will continue to shine a plight on the troubles and difficulties on our nation's reservations, and how one college kid is trying to change that.  

Teton is very much an NFL prospect, and should he get to that level, he is going to be the Walter Payton Man of the Year at some point, not because he is seeking it, but because he will have earned it."


Why was the Wuerffel Trophy created?  We felt that there was a void in major college football awards. Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel put it best when he wrote, “The Wuerffel. It’s about time. There’s an award for the best quarterback, best running back, wide receiver, best linebacker, best center and even best kicker and punter. Why not one for the best human being?”


Wuerffel Trophy
Tom Brassell, Executive Director
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Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547

Email: tombrassell@wuerffeltrophy.org

Phone: 850-585-5512

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