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Contract Year - #3. Carrington Byndom

For many reasons, players often enter their senior year with something to prove. Whether it's looking to cement status as an NFL Draft pick, or shoring up their Longhorn legacy, players will have their senior year be a "contract year". In this series, we'll count down five senior Longhorns that have contract years in 2013.

A return to form for Carrington Byndom will be huge for Texas in 2013.
A return to form for Carrington Byndom will be huge for Texas in 2013.

Carrington Byndom was set on a solid career trajectory: promising high school prospect, solid in spot duty as a freshman, and a spectacular frontline defender as a sophomore. As with the rest of the 2012 Texas defense, Byndom was set to be a star on a nationally elite defense. And as with the rest of the 2012 Texas defense, Byndom struggled in confusing fashion, with both high and low moments.

On the 2010 defense, Byndom was a spot player backing up experienced corners Curtis Brown, Chykie Brown, and Aaron Williams. When Chykie's season ended with a broken arm late in the year, Byndom stepped in and was a solid presence on the outside. It was just enough to make observers feel good about his chances on a green secondary in 2011, in which he and second-year player Adrian Phillips would be battling with freshman corner Quandre Diggs for the open corner positions. And he did not disappoint. As a first-year starter, he drew some of the toughest assignments on the season and held his own, including holding Justin Blackmon to seven catches for 74 yards and a touchdown in Austin and locking down Jeff Fuller in College Station, highlighted by the 58-yard pick six that helped turn the tide of that game. Byndom was set up to build upon those successes with a big 2012.

Then a puzzling series of errors struck, and Byndom fell victim to the same systematic failures that led the 2012 defense to be the worst statistically in school history. He was not immune to the missed tackle problems especially prevalent early in the year, including an embarrassing collision with Adrian Phillips that sprung an Ole Miss touchdown, and a couple long pass completions. But the season was not without its highlights, including a pick six to begin the second half against Oklahoma, and a game-clinching blocked field goal against Texas Tech in Lubbock. He would finish the season better than he began it, giving hope for a resurgence in his senior year.

For the Texas defense to come back in 2013, Byndom will have to be a key piece outside for the Horns. A return to his sophomore form, where he'd take on the assignment of each team's best receiver, would be ideal. However, with the 2013 schedule lacking the dominant quarterback/wide receiver tandems of prior years, a solid year from Byndom could be enough to do his part, along with his knack for making special plays on special teams. But for a guy with a solid NFL frame at corner, with legitimate draft prospects, a lock down year from Byndom could be enough to spring him to the top three rounds of the draft.

Previously on Contract Year:

#5. WR Mike Davis

#4. DE Jackson Jeffcoat