The Longhorns' old soul: Texas DT Paul Boyette talks marriage, his pit bull puppy and what's next in Austin
Most football players use this time of the off-season to rest and relax. Not Texas defensive tackle Paul Boyette. The rising senior has spent the last few weeks caring for a puppy and cheering on his wife, Longhorns women's basketball star Imani Boyette, as he readies for the final spring of his college career. Before practice—and March Madness—take over, Boyette took some time to chat with Campus Rush.
Lindsay Schnell: Texas football has come under heavy scrutiny over the last few years. With that in mind, what was it like to close so well on National Signing Day?
Paul Boyette: It just shows that coach (Charlie) Strong did a terrific job recruiting, especially at my position. Just going out there, leaving that stamp across the country that Texas can always bring in a top-10 recruiting class. I know how much personality coach Strong has, how much personality (defensive line) coach Brick Haley has, and how marketable they are to parents. You wouldn't want your kid going somewhere unless the coach is going to be like a father figure for your kid. I know that this coaching staff—they really do that, especially for me.
LS: What's one thing that most people outside of the program might not realize about Charlie Strong?
PB: Oh, he likes to crack jokes. He's a real jokester. Every time he sees me he's like, "Whachagot, Boyette, whachagot? Your wife treating you right?"
LS: I've heard some horror stories about The Pit, the place Texas players have to work out if they're injured. Have you ever been there? What's it like?
PB: Unfortunately, when coach Strong got here in 2014, I was one of the first guys to deal with it. I was injured at the time, I had shoulder surgery after I tore my rotator cuff, and I had to go through it and ooooh. I tell coach all the time, "The Pit ain't like it used to be when y'all first got here—we used to do tractor (tire) pulls during practice."
The Pit is not a place you want to be. If you talked to guys in the locker room, all of them will say the same thing: The Pit will make you not want to be hurt. The Pit will make you say, "Oh, I twisted my ankle, but I'll just rub some dirt on it. I'll be fine."
LS: You'll compete for a starting job this year, and you're a veteran on a team with lots of underclassmen. What's it like to be in a program with so much young talent?
PB: I think it's exciting, really. At the same time, I'm kind of looked at as the Papa Bear, the old guy, the old soul, because I'm married at a young age. 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.
LS: It's funny you bring up uncles, because I was going to ask you about yours. You come from a football lineage, with two uncles, Garland Boyette and Ernie Ladd, who played professionally. Do you think you were destined to be a football player? Did you have any chance to be something else?
PB: Yes! Those guys are Hall of Famers, but I have another family member who was a big-time wrestler. At first I thought I was going to be a basketball player. I love the game of basketball and it's so funny, because I married a basketball player. I think I was destined to play football, really, because most my life, it was there. The first Christmas present I remember was a football, and I was pushing it across the floor with my head.
LS: What's the highlight of your football career so far?
PB: I would have to say beating Oklahoma on my wife's birthday (on Oct. 10). I was one of the players of the game (after two tackles for loss, including a sack), and we brought in her 21st birthday with a bang.
LS: Wow, that's amazing. I was going to ask you what you remember most from that game. Now I'm guessing that it was her birthday.
PB: It's funny, she sent one of our media guys a text and told him to give me a hug from her (after the win).
LS: Speaking of your wife, playing a Division I sport is a full-time gig. But being married is a full-time job, too. How do you balance everything?
PB: It's difficult. We've got to balance it out every Sunday night, when we write out our daily schedules. We like to cook dinner for each other. Every other night either she's cooking or I'm cooking. For the Super Bowl I had some of my team over, cooked some ribs.
It's a real challenge, but you've gotta have fun with it. … I think we're amazing, because we balance school, graduation, trips, even graduate school and whatnot.
LS: What's a typical date night for you and Imani like in November, when you're both in season?
PB: Hmm. We'll probably come home, eat, shower, watch TV and go to sleep. (laughs) That's it! We're both so drained. But now, with her in season and me out of season, we got a little pit bull puppy, and she's the cutest puppy in the world. So, I'm managing being a dad to a dog right now, too. I'm embracing the father role. I think I'm going to be an outstanding daddy.
LS: You got a puppy? That's another full-time commitment!
PB: Oh, I know. A couple weeks ago I was FaceTiming with my mama, it was about 2 in the morning (Imani was on a basketball trip) and I said, "Mama, I think I'm gonna get a puppy, I'm tired of being home alone at night." I mean, I could be playing video games but … my wife came back and I said, "Let's get a puppy!" So, we brought 2016 in with a puppy. That's how I spent New Year's.
LS: When was the last time Imani beat you in one-on-one? I assume she posts you up whenever she wants.
PB: Now, see, what a lot of people don't understand is that I had D-I basketball offers. The last time my wife probably beat me, well, I need to get back on the court tonight or tomorrow because she had a good game against me last time and I need to bring her back down a bit. The last time (we) played was over Christmas break. She beat me, but I was a little rusty because I hadn't picked up a basketball in about six months because of football. She beat me 3–2, I'll give her that. Since this is being recorded, the whole world is gonna know she beat me, but don't worry, I'm gonna come back.
LS: Can't she dunk?
PB: Yes she can! Me and her have been talking about it this year, that we want to end her legacy here at Texas with a dunk. It's coming soon. Just wait.
LS: What do you like most about being married to another athlete?
PB: The competition, really. She'll say that when she gets drafted, she's going to make a whole lot more money than I am and I'm gonna have to live off her. (laughs) It's not every day you get two outstanding athletes together in the same house, embracing each other and being best friends.
LS: If you could star in another sport at Texas, what would you want to play?
PB: I would want to play basketball. I told coach (Shaka) Smart, because I played with some of the guys on the team in AAU, "Hey, man, let me walk on, just use me for fouls, I can come in there and block two, three shots, just let me get about a four-point average and I'm good." That's all I need. You can try the Hack-A-Shaq with me, but I won't miss free throws.
LS: Oh really? You think you can handle the Havoc?
PB: Oh, I'll be just fine. I'll drop down to 250, 240 (pounds) and I'll be good.