FRISCO, Texas – Only in Texas could a first-round draft pick call to mind a Taco Bell commercial.
Ask Taco Charlton, the Cowboys' newest pass rusher, how he got his famous nickname, and he'll tell you it's a long story. He'll say it's something his mother and his grandmother came up with.
"When your grandmother and mother give you a name, it's hard to run away from it," he said on Friday.
Charlton's parents, Tamara and Norm, took the trip to Texas on Friday to watch their son's introduction as a Dallas Cowboy. If you want details, Tamara is more than happy to provide them – starting with her son's insistence on being born early, back on Nov. 7, 1994.
"Taco was a preemie – he was about two months premature," she said. "And at that time, Taco Bell had a commercial, 'Rushing for the Border' or 'Running for the Border.'"
A quick Google search confirms this fact. At the time, the fast food taco restaurant was using the ad slogan 'Make A Run For The Border.'
The phrase stuck with Tamara's mother, Veddiann – to say the least.
"My mom would say he was running for the border, since I kept going into pre-term labor," Tamara Charlton said. "And she would write on my cards: 'It's for the best of Taco. He's running for the border, but just keep him in.'"
Officially, they named him Vidauntae, in honor of Veddiann. But from the very moment he arrived, it has always been Taco.
"He was Taco immediately," Tamara said. "Like if you were to see him in the mall now and call his real name, he probably wouldn't answer because it's never used. We never call his name. It's always Taco."
She's not exaggerating. From grade school friends to college recruiters, people have always called the Pickerington, Ohio, native 'Taco.'
"His teachers, anybody that knows him from grade school -- kindergarten on up – they would know him as Taco Charlton," she said. "If you would say his regular name, they'd probably be like 'Hm?' If you say 'Taco,' they'll say 'Oh, the big kid.'
And it's not just friends or acquaintances. The phenomenon extends all the way to the government.
"Actually, his first check from the IRS -- he worked at Abercrombie, and it came in 'Taco Charlton,'" Tamara said. "All college letters came in 'Taco Charlton.'"
Now that he's been drafted by the Cowboys, the trend is only going to grow. Charlton said he has already been contacted by multiple companies about endorsement opportunities for his catchy nickname.
"My agent called and he said there's a lot of interest," he said. "I said 'You know, if you could handle that for right now and let me enjoy this experience of being here in Dallas.' But I can't wait to get out there and try all the different tacos. I've heard this is the place to be."
As he begins his journey into NFL stardom, Vidauntae will likely take a back seat to Taco. But given how the name came about, that's something his mother is just fine with.
"That's his real name, but Taco is who he is," she said.