Big guys are common in football games. It’s almost a prerequisite, especially for offensive linemen in today’s game, to be among the largest human beings walking the Earth. Football players are big.
But “big” probably doesn’t do justice to Teddy Prochazka, junior offensive tackle for Elkhorn South High school.
“I think that his height is what first caught people’s eye,” said his head coach Guy Rosenberg. And he’s not wrong. Prochazka stands 6’8”, towering almost comically over everyone on the field.
He’s been this big forever. Not literally, of course. But for as long as he’s been in the eyes of Metro football fans, he’s been impossible to miss. Last season, as a sophomore, Prochazka showed up in a big way.
Elkhorn South was making the transition from Class B, Nebraska’s second-largest classification for football, to Class A, the largest. Along with their sister school, Elkhorn High, and Gretna, the Storm were in for a much bigger challenge. Rosenberg’s bunch had been wildly successful in Class B. In each of the previous three seasons, Elkhorn South had made, at worst, the semifinal in the state playoffs. In 2015 and 2016, they won titles, amassing a stunning 36-2 record over three seasons.
Playing in Class A meant more eyeballs on the program. And people immediately noticed the big fella at left tackle. College coaches were among those taking notice.
“Some outstanding programs came through. Michigan, Northwestern, offers from both of those places. An opportunity to go to Notre Dame for a game day visit. So he’s definitely in demand,” Rosenberg said.
It wasn’t only that Prochazka stands 6’8” and weighs around 280. He could move. Elkhorn South’s offense requires tackles to block in space. Rosenberg says his offense has tackles executing pull blocks in the way that most others use their offensive guards.
“Sometimes I think you see guys that are 6’8”, but they can’t tie their shoes,” Rosenberg said. “Or they’re a big guy, but they’re not aggressive. Teddy’s got all that in place already.”
Elkhorn South’s first season in Class A couldn’t be described as anything but successful. The Storm finished 6-3 in the regular season and won a first round playoff game. Both of the other two Metro schools moving up in classification finished 3-6 and missed the playoffs.
For Prochazka, it was a successful season as well. Rosenberg says as much. But Prochazka wanted to get better., to be the best he could be. His father, a former Lincoln Southeast and University of Nebraska Omaha lineman, taught Prochazka the value of watching himself on film and it immediately made an impact.
“During the summer, winter, even basketball season, I’m watching tape, seeing what I did wrong, what I could do better,” Prochazka said. “Even during the season. Any little mistake that I see, I try to fix it in the week of practice.”
Over the summer, Prochazka hit the weight room and enlisted the help of a former Nebraska offensive lineman.
“I trained with Matt Vrzal,” Prochazka said. “ It was on Tuesdays and weekends, whenever we could get in some work.”
The work paid off in the eyes of recruitniks and coaches alike. The major recruiting services list Prochazka as a four-star prospect. One rates him as the 55th-best overall player in the 2021 class. At the time of writing, Prochazka holds no less than eight scholarship offers from Power 5 schools.
But there’s one offer that stood out, almost immediately. It came from his home-state school, Nebraska. Early in the 2019 season, Prochazka had a chance to attend the Nebraska-Northern Illinois game for a visit.
“I was there, it was a night game. That environment was crazy,” Prochazka said. “I loved everything about it. I kind of just went home and thought about it after that. Do I really want to go anywhere else?”
He answered his own question quickly. No, he didn’t want to go anywhere else. On September 28th, Prochazka announced his commitment to the University of Nebraska. Teammate and Elkhorn South quarterback Elliott Brown was not surprised.
I’m staying home 🔴🌽 pic.twitter.com/FinXf5ySgB
— Teddy Prochazka (@TeddyProchazka) September 28, 2019
“I’ve been playing with him since he was a little kid,” Brown said. “We knew he was going to do big things. We love it for him.”
Where some teams may have players who harbor resentment for those who get big-time attention, there’s none to be found at Elkhorn South. Rosenberg attributes most of it to the structure and respect built into his program. But Prochazka is due some credit.
“He’s doing all the right things and putting the team first,” Rosenberg said. “His teammates notice that.”
Big, he may be. But Prochazka isn’t bigger than the team, and he understands it. All the commitment and offseason work was certainly to improve himself. But there’s an undercurrent to everything he does.
“Whatever I can do to be better for the team, that’s what I’m going to do.”
While his physical stature is initially what attracted scores of collegiate coaches, that attitude might be what makes Prochazka truly different. Playing for team instead of self is what coaches at podiums all across the country talk about each week. As a junior in high school, Prochazka already seems to have that trait ingrained.
Be sure to check out Teddy Prochazka and the Ellkhorn South team as they take on Omaha Westside Friday, Oct. 11th on GameTime at 7pm and streaming LIVE on Yurview.com.