After Texas Longhorns sophomore cornerback Kris Boyd lost out on a starting position to classmates Davante Davis and Holton Hill, he’s coming into the 2016 season battling for playing time with more experienced players like senior Sheroid Evans and junior Antwuan Davis.
“Kris competed well last year,” said Texas head coach Charlie Strong back in June. “He's an unbelievable special teams player. He has enough that he can be a starter I think he's going to compete, and he wants to start. He's working right now where he goes out each and every day, and he's going to be given that opportunity.”
Indeed, Boyd was a gunner on punt coverage last season and quickly made an impact, delivering a big hit against Notre Dame that forced a fumble. He also tied for the team lead in special teams tackles with four and finished second on the team with nine kickoffs for 185 yards.
In 2016, the East Texas product may have to make his presence felt on special teams once again, as he’s currently set to be the first cornerback off the bench, but will likely remain a key cog in the coverage units and perhaps even on kickoff returns. On the latter unit, however, he may face some competition from freshman wide receiver Devin Duvernay.
At cornerback, Boyd had his only interception of 2015 negated by the questionable roughing the passer call on defensive tackle Paul Boyette against Oklahoma State, but otherwise didn’t break up any passes and made only 12 tackles on defense as he lost playing time late in the season to Davis and Hill, now the two starters outside.
The Orange and White game showed some progress, though, as Boyd broke up two passes with his positioning.
And since Big 12 opponents will run a lot of plays against the Longhorns defense no matter how well it plays, coordinator Vance Bedford views Boyd as a key cog.
“Kris Boyd — guess what, you are a starter too,” Bedford said this spring. “You might not start the game but if you have the high hand in the game, you might get four to five snaps to Davante, Hollywood. So they are all the starters right now and that is how they have to look at it. They need to play numbers against these high up-tempo offenses who are getting 80 to 100 plays a game.”
So even though Boyd isn’t starting, the 6’0, 188-pounder has to prepare like a starter and approach games knowing that he’s going to get an opportunity. Known as a competitive, talkative player, as long as Boyd can remain focused and learn how to study the game from players like senior safety Dylan Haines, he will be a key piece of the 2016 Texas secondary.