CHARLOTTE – It feels like Tre Boston has been a Carolina guy forever. You'd have to check your sources to remember he actually grew up in Florida.
But ever since Boston spent four years at UNC, and ever since the Panthers drafted him, and ever since he sprinted back onto the practice fields at Wofford screaming in joy when the Panthers re-signed him last summer, Boston has been a Carolina guy. And now he has a multiyear contract to stay in Carolina after three straight seasons of one-year deals.
"It means a lot, man," Boston said by phone after he re-signed last week. "This is where I started."
Boston was characteristically exuberant. We are talking about the same guy who could probably voice a season's worth of "Wired" segments all on his own. But he also spoke of a serious focus because of what's ahead in 2020.
"A big part for me was I want to see the progression," he said. "I've been a part of teams that got new coaches, been a part of revamps. I just want to help build Carolina back up. I know there's a lot of turnover right now."
Carolina's secondary will enter the new season without veterans James Bradberry, Eric Reid or Colin Jones. Reid and Jones were released last week, while Bradberry found the big-money deal he was looking for with the Giants.
Boston has always been loud and energetic, but now, entering his seventh season, he is one of the few experienced veterans on the defensive side of the roster.
"It's big on me to quarterback these guys with Shaq Thompson," Boston said. "We've got guys who definitely understand we have to step up and get the guys around us rolling. But we're excited about it. For me, to lead this young group of men, it'll be with truly a new style. We've got to come in here and get with these coaches and see what they want.
"But ultimately, it's about being myself, because I know the guys are going to gravitate to me regardless. We'll get the job done."
Carolina's new defensive pass game coordinator and secondary coach Jason Simmons has seen what Boston has done from afar.
"He's shown an awful lot of resolve with the way that his career has gone," Simmons said. "He's been productive everywhere he's gone and he's had to move through several teams."
With the Chargers, Cardinals and then his reunion with the Panthers, Boston totaled 11 total interceptions the past three seasons. Those were the second-most picks among safeties in the time frame.
"Tre is just flat out tough and he's smart," Simmons said. "He matches the identity of the type of secondary that we want to build here. He has a natural and a real energy. It's authentic and invigorating."
A new coaching staff and younger personnel group aren't the only hurdles Boston will face this spring. The voluntary workouts that were scheduled to begin April 6 have been postponed indefinitely by COVID-19.
"Right now, I'm just staying home with my wife and the little one," Boston said. "But I'm always working out and keeping my body in shape. We have to be prepared for whenever we get back in there."
Whenever that is, the Carolina guy will surely be ready. And loud.
Tre Boston played with Carolina from 2013-16 and then returned in 2019.