Whenever college football fans talk about the Oregon Ducks, the first thing that comes to mind is their explosive offense. Then, fans starting talking about the quarterback competition, the running backs, the lack of depth at receiver, the incredibly loud stadium, and coach Chip Kelly. The defensive stars end up being an unsung bunch, and the trio of Dion Jordan, Michael Clay, and John Boyett are as good of defensive combo as there is in the Pac-12. After profiling Jordan last month, it’s time to take a look at star safety John Boyett.
As the title says, the man who tied the record for the most tackles in Rose Bowl history (17) is an elite player. Ted Miller got a lot of flak for leaving Boyett off of his top 25 list, but whether or not Boyett is one of the best 25 players in the conference is irrelevant. What does matter is the fact that he is one of the best defensive backs in the conference. He will have to continue to play at a high level with the loss of star cornerback Eddie Pleasant, and Ducks fans are certain that he will come through for us. Why? Because he’s done so for the previous three seasons.
It’s time to turn back the clock and take a look at what John Boyett did as a freshman in Eugene. He notched 90 tackles with three picks and tipped eight passes, which means that he had the 5th most tackles in the Pac-12- as a freshman. He also had the 7th most INTs in the conference; now that’s what we football fans call production.
Those 90 tackles led the team in 2009, which is unheard of for a redshirt freshman It truly is, because Boyett became the first player to lead Oregon in tackles as a freshman. He even went ahead and added 12 tackles in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State, which was definitely a good bit of foreshadowing for the future star.
In 2010, John Boyett built on his freshman campaign by becoming a second-team All-American in 2010. The statistics were off the charts for Boyett, as the former three-star recruit picked off a career-high five passes with 78 tackles thrown in for good measure. His 57 INT return yards were among the top ten in the nation, so John Boyett was taking his game from great conference-level production to great nation-level production.
Passes defended is the best counting statistic- among those that are widely available- to measure a defensive back’s impact in pass coverage. With 14 PDs, it is safe to say that John Boyett was an impact player in the secondary. He had the second most tips and second most picks in 2010, and one of those picks went for 6 (the only points of his career).
Heading into his junior year, there was obviously much more fanfare surrounding the star in Eugene. Boyett had just one pick and seven tips, but he set a career-high with 108 tackles and showed his terrific open-field tackling ability. The decrease in tips and interceptions can be attributed to more respect and a lack of targets. Offenses are starting to realize that, after Boyett’s incredible 2010 season, it is foolish to throw it his way. More often than not, a pass directed in Boyett’s zone is going to end up as an incomplete pass- or worse.