Hanging out with two friends from the Boise State basketball team at a summer barbecue last month, Boise State defensive tackle Elliot Hoyte decided to shoot some hoops.
One of his first attempts clanged off the backboard.
Then, it got worse.
“There was a hornet’s nest on the back of the hoop,” Hoyte said. “I hit it a little bit too hard. They came after me, and one straight for my face, (stung) my lip. It blew up to about the size of a tennis ball.”
So, did the 6-foot-4, 279-pound senior exact his revenge on the swarm?
“I ran away,” he said.
That’s part of Hoyte’s genial off-field nature, admitting his shot was not anything close to his friends on the Bronco basketball team, or taking some jokes this summer at the team’s charity softball game, his first time ever playing. He’s also known for being quite a grillmaster at those barbecues. A big part is the accent, definitely the accent. The native of southwest England speaks, and it’s just calming.
“He’s a likeable guy. His accent, everyone likes it. I make fun of him sometimes,” senior guard Travis Averill said.
The most veteran member of the Broncos’ interior defensive line, Hoyte has played in 31 games, making one start last season, and totaled four sacks in his career. When the pads come on, there’s a different guy under them.
“I wouldn’t say I have a mean streak, but you definitely have to flip a switch,” Hoyte said. “I like to have fun off the field, but you have to understand when you come to work and step on the field, if you don’t turn up, you get bullied. I’m not someone that wants to be bullied.”
This fall will be just the seventh in which Hoyte has played football. Moving from what defensive line coach Steve Caldwell called a “clean-up role” to a likely starting spot, Hoyte’s room for improvement is high, even in his fifth season with the Broncos.
“He’s still growing as a football player. Elliot has a knack for getting after the passer, but I know he’s got to get better against the run,” Caldwell said. “... He has the experience that no one behind him does, so him being a complete player is really important for us.”
In the spring and through the first four days of fall camp, Hoyte has been on the first-team line at the Broncos’ thinnest spot. Some talented freshmen and junior college transfer Daniel Auelua will no doubt continue to push him.
“I realize now that this is the last one. I may not get the chance to play football again after this. It’s just different. I’m giving this everything I have,” Hoyte said. “... I still need to go out there and earn it. It’s not given to me.
“My time hasn’t come — yet.”
Even the guy who likes to poke a little fun at the gentle giant is confident Hoyte is ready to be a key contributor this season.
“I go against him every day, we have some good battles. I think he’ll be good,” Averill said.
Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @IDS_BroncoBeat