CORINTH — Sometimes it takes a while to find your place on the football field. And the search can be quite painful.
Kobe Boyce was an athletic kid who loved to play multiple sports. Baseball, basketball, even lacrosse. As a seventh grader, he went out for football “because everyone else did,” he said. “I was just trying to fit in.”
Coaches lined him up at running back on the first day of practice. He took the handoff and got blasted. A separated shoulder. Tears everywhere — coming from the defense!
“My coach popped it back in,” Boyce said, “and the kid who hit me, he was crying and apologizing to my mom.”
His freshman year, coaches at the June Shelton private school in Dallas tried him at receiver. “I remember I ran a bubble screen,” Boyce recalled, “and I saw these two dudes come up to me and I just dropped it and got it. It was bad.”
Then one day Boyce remembers watching Ole Miss on television and saw how disruptive the Rebels’ cornerbacks were. Their speed, athleticism and game-changing plays were incredible.
Suddenly, Boyce found his calling and soon carved his niche. As a junior, he would make arguably the two biggest defensive plays in Lake Dallas history that propelled the Falcons to the state semifinals. This summer, Boyce’s football journey continues as a cornerback at Texas, a position and place that feels quite comfortable now.
Granted, it may take some time before Longhorns fans see him on the field. On signing day, Texas officials listed Boyce at 6 feet, 164 pounds. That’s awfully scrawny by today’s standards, especially in the shoot-’em-up Big 12. But former UT coach Charlie Strong was eager to bet on a player that went from virtual unknown to getting an invite to The Opening.
For all of its academic credentials, the Shelton school isn’t exactly an athletic superpower. That’s why Boyce, believing he had college-level talent, had to transfer somewhere else to get noticed. After convincing his parents, he enrolled at Lake Dallas prior to his junior year. That school is literally five minutes from his home, Boyce said, compared to Shelton, which was 45 minutes away.
Lake Dallas coach Michael Young played him at receiver but mostly as a defensive back. Boyce admits that some recruiting reporters helped spread the word along with game tape from his junior season. Then one day, he got a message from an Iowa State assistant.
The Cyclones were interested, wanted to start a dialogue and ultimately discussed a scholarship offer. Then, Boyce went with a teammate to visit SMU. The Mustangs noted Boyce’s height, weight and other particulars but never contacted him again.
“After my first offer, (TCU coach) Gary Patterson followed me on Twitter, and I was like, ‘Whoa!,” Boyce said.
Soon, other big schools started taking notice, as did the Longhorns. After his junior season, Boyd was understandably anxious. “Coach (Vance) Bedford hit me up and said to be patient, because coach Strong was slow with all of this,” Boyce said.
Boyce had 40 tackles, eight pass breakups and two interceptions as a junior. Out of a full season’s worth of film, all anyone needs to see are two plays from 2015.
With less than two minutes remaining in the state quarterfinals, Everman needed a prayer. Facing third-and-13 from its own 43, Everman tried a deep ball down the sideline. But Boyce was there to knock it away near the 10-yard line. On fourth down, same play. It wasn’t a great throw, but Boyce smothered the receiver, who had no shot.
Lake Dallas won 41-38 and advanced to the Class 5A Division II semifinals for the first time in school history. The Falcons lost in triple overtime to Frisco Lone Star, but finished the year with a 12-3 record.
“He’s such an athletic kid with great hips; he could eventually get himself into being a big kid, too,” Young said. “He could be a big, physical safety or corner once he gets into the weight room.”
Boyce was on everyone’s radar as a senior. He was rated the 55th best cornerback in the nation and 78th best overall player in Texas, according to 247Sports’ composite ratings.
All it took was finding the right position at the right school to make everything click.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: This is the seventh of a series of looks at Texas’ 2017 signing class, as we reach out to the recruits themselves across Texas, Oklahoma and Florida to get a sense of just what the Longhorns are getting. Past stories: