Carrington Byndom isn’t like most great cornerbacks.
He’s very soft-spoken, doesn’t talk a lot of smack on the field and calmly hands the ball to the referee after making a pick. But he’s got one thing in common with the typically talented, flashy corner — he shuts people down.
Last season, his first as a starter, Byndom quietly emerged as one of the best cover corners in the country. He was 12th in the nation in passes defended, averaging 1.3 deflections a contest. Those gaudy numbers were in spite of opposing quarterbacks avoiding him early in the year, instead picking on then-freshman Quandre Diggs.
They threw at Diggs for good reason too; Byndom just didn’t give receivers much breathing room.
Even the best wideout in college football last season, Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, a two-time Biletnikoff award winner, failed to have his usual success against Byndom. Byndom held Blackmon to seven receptions for 74 yards and one touchdown, good numbers, but below his per-game average in all three categories.
Performances like those are the reason why praise is rolling in for the junior, and Texas head coach Mack Brown is one of the people leading the choir that’s showering adoration on Byndom.
“He’s a guy that can intercept the ball,” Brown said. “He can make plays. He’s physical. And I think that he will end up being one of the better defensive backs in the country this year.”
Byndom, true to his polite personality, was touched by Brown’s words, but he would be the first to admit he still hasn’t reached those standards.
“I’m honored that he would think so highly of me,” Byndom said. “But I still have a long ways to go. I’m still making strides to improve my game.”
He may not be an All-American yet, but he’s quickly working his way there. Byndom already has amazing on-the-ball instincts, good footwork and the speed to keep up with any wideout. However, the real key to his success on the island that is the cornerback position is confidence.
“You got to have confidence. That’s where it starts,” Byndom said. “You got to have confidence in your technique and your abilities that whatever happens on this play you will prevail, you will overcome and win. Being strong-minded is definitely a good thing at corner.”
That mental fortitude has served him well during his first few seasons on the 40 Acres and is a big reason why he was able to perform at an upperclassman level as a sophomore.
To live up to the potential Brown believes he has, Byndom will have to take another leap this season. And all indications are that he’s made major strides in doing so during the offseason.
“This past year he was really good in coverage, but over the summer he’s gotten even better,” safety Adrian Phillips said. “I think he will be one of the best corners in the nation. People will try him, but he’s been working like he should be to prepare for it.”
He’ll be tested frequently with all of the explosive passing attacks in the Big 12. But he’s prepared for it; he’s dealt with the rigors of the conference before, and all of that experience will only help him take his game to the next level.
Byndom may not be flashy, talkative or even exuberant, but he’s skilled, confident and intelligent, the aspects that really determine how good a cornerback can be.
Most importantly, he thrives on the one-on-one competition that comes with the job, and he never likes to lose.
“I definitely don’t turn down playing a little man [to man defense],” Byndom said. “I embrace it.”
Printed on Thursday, August 30, 2012 as: Byndom lets his play do the talking for Longhorns