Boston Taking Leadership Role

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Two years ago, Tre Boston was unexpectedly thrown into a starting role against LSU. Still just a junior, the safety is now the leader of a secondary looking to turn a corner this fall.

Boston was introduced to big-time college football sooner than expected due to fallout from the NCAA investigation in season opener against the Tigers in 2010.

With less than three minutes remaining in the second quarter of the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle smoked Boston for a 51-yard Tiger touchdown. Just a few minutes later, Boston bounced back with his first career interception. For some, the chance to start as a freshman on national television against one of the most prominent programs in the country would be something to build on.

"Not really," Boston said on Thursday. "I look back on that to say, ‘yeah that was an experience, but now it's more mature.' I had to know my plays, but now I feel comfortable in this defense knowing the plays and now it's my opportunity to fly around and I have to do what I have to do."

It is not that Boston erased the memories and experience from two years ago. He is literally in a different place now. The Fort Myers, Fla. product moved from cornerback to safety last season and was introduced to an entirely new defense this spring. The 4-2-5 scheme, implemented by co-defensive coordinators Dan Disch and Vic Koenning, calls on two players, the bandit and the ram, to perform the duties of multiple positions on defense.

"In this league, we're starting to become spreads and you have to have guys who can cover slots and with that, that's why we have hybrids," Boston said. "We have guys who can cover slots, cover anybody that we have on the field and run around and tackle and with that you have to have speed.

"Guys tend to think that we have no technique back there, but [there is] technique. It's that we're flying around and knowing our assignments. When you get to fly around like we are now, it becomes fun and easy and that's how we play."

Even with two years of eligibility remaining, Boston is now one of the elder statesmen in the secondary and serves as a mentor to the underclassmen. In February, he sent a text message to North Carolina signee T.J. Jiles. It simply read, "Congratulations on being a Tar Heel. Now let's get to work."

While there is not much Boston can draw from the past as far as the playbook, his 23 career starts provide valuable knowledge for the young members of the North Carolina secondary. With a defense that requires as many as five defensive backs on the field at any given time, new faces will inevitably be called upon to step up and perform.

"Honestly, they're getting really good," Boston said of the younger defensive backs. "We took a lot of time this summer really trying to get them in the playbook, really trying to get them ready for the season…

"We have to have backups that can do it just like us. With that, we really got those guys rolling. They're improving everyday. From technique and breaks to getting in the playbook and we have to have that."

Boston is well known by the North Carolina faithful for his long dreadlocks and energetic attitude. Now firmly established as the leader of the secondary, Boston hopes to become appreciated for his play on the field - in addition to his hair - as he strives to improve the ACC's third-worst passing defense (241.31 ypg) from 2011.

"Tre is always there," head coach Larry Fedora said. "He knows what he's doing every single time."

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