The junior cornerback not only wants to lead the team in interceptions and pass breakups—he wants to hit double-digits in takeaways.
"I'm setting them pretty high this year just because I feel like I could have done a lot more last year because I wasn't as knowledgeable as I feel like I am now," Boykin said. "I was kind of learning on the go being the newcomer to the secondary. Me personally I want to lead the secondary in interceptions and [pass breakups]. My goal: I'm trying to get to 10 picks this year. That's a pretty high goal, but if I get anywhere near it I think that's pretty good."
Last season Boykin's three picks were good enough for second-most on the team, behind Reshad Jones. Boykin also accumulated six pass breakups, also second to Jones.
Now under the tutelage of first-year secondary coach Scott Lakatos, Boykin says he can push his totals to a new level.
Lakatos employs more man coverage, as opposed to the zone defense commonly run by former coordinator Willie Martinez. Defensive backs are also encouraged to go after the football once a pass is in the air, which differs from Martinez' style of attacking receivers trying to make the catch.
All the new techniques add up to Boykin grabbing more interceptions—or at least to set extreme goals.
"[Lakatos] just really puts a lot of responsibility on you as a player," Boykin said. "It's just about you being a confidant player."
Lakatos' teachings and philosophies are perfect for a player of Boykin's mentality. With speed, leaping ability and a hunger to make plays, Boykin is the unquestioned leader of the cornerback unit.
"[Lakatos] is basically saying that my guy is better than your guy, and we're going to see what happens," Boykin said. "He's basically putting you out there on that island, and you just have to have confidence in yourself. I think that's something that he's trying to build in us. If we make mistakes we just have to have that short memory."
Sturdivant right on schedule
Junior left tackle Trinton Sturdivant has been active thus far in summer workouts and appears to be right on track with his rehab schedule.
Although when he'll actually return has not been established, Sturdivant is mobile, and now running with little difficulty.
"Trinton looks good," senior tackle Josh Davis said. "I think he's right on schedule to be back when they said he was. He looks good. I saw him out there [Wednesday] morning. He looked real good. He's moving around real well. He told me he feels strong and he thinks he'll be able to come back and do what he's supposed to do."
Rehabbing after having his second major knee surgeries in as many years, Sturdivant's return offers a tricky situation for offensive line coach Stacey Searels. With a solidified starting five—which started the last six games of 2009 together—the worry is Sturdivant could throw chemistry off balance.
Davis says this is not the case, indicating as many healthy bodies as possible is the best-case scenario.
"That's why we did so well in the past because certain guys moving around just learning new positions," Davis said. "It really won't matter about chemistry because he's a good player and everyone that can possibly be put in the slot can play that position."
If this offensive line stays healthy in 2010, the number of able, and talented bodies, could provide the deepest line in the country. Sturdivant has been called a luxury, since the line is so talented and experienced without him.
"No I haven't thought about it," Davis said of Sturdivant's return. "It crosses my mind but I have no idea. I have no clue about what that is. That's why coach Sereals gets the big bucks to figure that out. I'm sure the best five will play every week. That's how we'll roll with it."
"I think that we have the same mindset as last year. We're always going to be called on, whether we have an explosive offense or a great defense. We know that we're going to have to show up every game. Whether it's Blair Walsh, or the punt team, we're going to be ready to go. I think the main thing is consistency. I think Aaron understands what he needs to do, and I think he understands all the pressure isn't on his shoulders. We have 10 returning starters on offense, and he just needs to make sure he's comfortable, and plays consistent, and we'll be successful. I think that no matter what happens, special teams will be ready." --- Drew Butler, Junior punter.