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Texas DT Paul Boyette needs to play more consistently in 2016

After a breakout junior season, the team’s most experienced defensive tackle has to continue growing.

NCAA Football: Texas at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing the spring with only three scholarship defensive tackles on the roster, there’s a tremendous amount of pressure on Texas longhorns senior Paul Boyette to produce at a high level for the ‘Horns in his final season on the Forty Acres.

Sure, there are the five freshman defensive tackles, but Boyette is the only defensive tackle on the roster who has starting experience and the size at 6’3 to be a force in the middle every game.

Last season, Boyette emerged as a leader by hosting teammates for cookouts at his house and then finished second on the team among defensive tackles in tackles (37) and third overall in tackles for loss (eight). The Humble product also produced three sacks, three pressures, and two passes broken up.

However, his production varied from game to game. It took half the season for Boyette to work his way into the starting lineup and even then, he was much better in some games than others.

Against Cal and Kansas, Boyette had only one tackle in each game.

Yet, in big contests against Oklahoma and Baylor, the 6’3, 317-pounder was at his best, recording two tackles for loss, two pressures, and one sack in the Cotton Bowl before closing the season by leading the team with nine tackles (five solo) and two tackles for loss in Waco.

Simply put, Boyette was a different player on those big stages, as his intensity increased dramatically. The results were apparent.

Against the Sooners, his technique helped him create his big plays.

That’s a textbook grab-and-pull right there.

A swim move in the same game helped him record his sack, even though he got grabbed by an opponent as he was heading towards Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

So the technique is there in addition to the other physical attributes that can combine to make Boyette successful.

Off the field, the husband of WNBA player Imani Boyette has already made a positive impact on the team.

“I'm kind of looked at as the Papa Bear, the old guy, the old soul, because I'm married at a young age,” Boyette told SI. “But, really, I love being a mentor and a leader and I'm a happy it's finally my time to be vocal. I think, moving forward, I'm just gonna try to show the young guys the ropes.

“Every time we get a new recruit, coach Strong has called me in and introduces me, tells them I'm married, just showing I've got a good head on my shoulders, I'm a positive person, I'm headed in the right direction. ... My nickname on the team, everyone calls me ‘Unc,’ like uncle. I've got a lot of nephews on the team.”

The thing is, those nephews won’t be ready to battle on the defensive interior as well as Boyette, so he’ll have to stay healthy and turn in more performances like Baylor and Oklahoma for Texas to effectively stop the run and end opposing drives with negative plays.

With all the attention being paid to the freshmen, Boyette hasn’t been a consistent topic of discussion during the offseason, but there’s no question that he’s one of the most important players on the entire defense as he seeks a higher level of consistency himself.

So now there’s one last chance for Unc and the small group of seniors to make an impact at Texas before moving on.