Oregon Ducks Football: John Boyett, Elite Safety

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Last year’s second-team Pac-12 safety is, more or less, an underrated player in the grand scheme of things. Any safety who has the impact John Boyett has in run support and coverage has to be among the top 25 players in his conference. Boyett is one of the best safeties in college football and in Oregon history- and there have been some great safeties to play in Eugene, such as current AFC East starters Jairus Byrd and Patrick Chung. The thing is, Boyett is a better player in coverage than Chung and plays run support better than Byrd. While he might not be as good as Byrd overall, John Boyett is superior to Chung, who gets beat in coverage too easily.

Instead of comparing Boyett to former Ducks safeties, it is better to see what this elite senior will accomplish next season. Based on what he has done in the past, Boyett should notch 100 tackles, a few picks, and near ten passes defended. However, those coverage stats will do even less justice to him going forward. Teams are definitely going to continue to shy away from throwing it at Boyett, whose ball-hawking skills are top-notch at the back. Thus, that is something else that he will be overlooked on. There aren’t many safeties who can tackle like Boyett in the open field and possess his technique. John Boyett is a menace against the run and can deliver huge blows in the middle of the field. How is he not an elite safety and arguably the best at his position in the conference?

Most people are so hell-bent on using interceptions as the only means of evaluating a player in the secondary, which is a shame. John Boyett can rack up the interceptions if given the opportunity, but- as with most good coverage players- they won’t get those opportunities after they have established themselves as threats. After all, offenses aren’t that stupid.

The beacon of hope that Boyett finally gets his due lies in a different statistic; tackles. Boyett doesn’t simply rack up “garbage” tackles, because the Ducks defense is filled with high-caliber players (like Jordan and Clay). That theory only works for a player like Cort Dennison, whose stats were inflated by playing on a poor defense. 108 tackles is remarkable for a safety, and it is a testament to Boyett’s  ability to tackle in the open-field by barreling towards the ball-carrier, and his ability to swiftly move downhill in run support and patrol the middle of the field.

Next season will be a huge one for the senior star, and hopefully more and more fans and analysts start viewing John Boyett as the elite safety he has proven to be over three seasons for the Oregon Ducks. He is a leader on defense, a good player in pass coverage, and one of the best safeties in college football in run support.

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