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The Virginia native and reigning ACC player of the year is back with the Tigers for one more shot at winning it all.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, the reigning ACC player of the year, had plenty to say at the conference media day in Greensboro, N.C.
Associated Press | File 2012
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd works before the first half of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
GREENSBORO, N.C. — He started by singing some country music lyrics, downplayed trash talk from South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, spoke of what a mentor Michael Vick has been and heralded the hurry-up offense as something that has no reason not to work in the NFL.
It’s safe to say Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd felt comfortable at the ACC Kickoff at the Grandover Resort over the weekend as media members listened with rapt attention.
Not often does the ACC’s reigning player of the year — and the 2013 preseason player of the year — return for another season of college football. Since 1980, only Florida State’s Charlie Ward has pulled off the back-to-back, in 1992 and ’93.
But Boyd, who grew up in the Tidewater region of Virginia, didn’t come back for more individual hardware or even to improve his video game-like numbers.
He wants to win. And he wants to win something significant.
“When I decided to come to Clemson from the get-go, I said I wanted to win championships,” said Boyd, who so far has a 2011 ACC title to his credit. “We’ve been able to do a little bit so far since I’ve been here, and I’m excited to have one last shot at it.”
Statistically, Boyd doesn’t have much more to accomplish. A two-time first-team All-ACC quarterback, he’s thrived in up-tempo guru Chad Morris’ offense, somehow besting his 2011 totals in one fewer game in 2012 by throwing for 3,896 yards and 36 touchdowns and adding 514 yards and 10 more scores on the ground.
There was a time when such numbers would be chalked up to the system. Clemson runs more plays than most teams in the country, so naturally Boyd’s numbers should be eye-popping. NFL teams burned by Steve Spurrier’s pass-happy quarterbacks or run ‘n’ shoot busts were hesitant to take those stats at face value.
But that conventional wisdom is starting to change. College football’s wide-open offenses are creeping into the NFL.
Recent successes like Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick have removed a stigma around dual-threat quarterbacks and those who run a hurry-up offense. The Philadelphia Eagles went as far as to hire a college coach in Chip Kelly who is on the cutting edge of that up-tempo trend.
Boyd, who might not have been ranked as highly in past years, is No. 2 on ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.’s list of top quarterback prospects for the 2014 draft, behind another dual threat, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater.
“It’s the nature of the game, man,” Boyd said. “I think that the game is evolving. We’re not in leather helmets.”
Boyd probably had an NFL-ready game last year, his stock soaring after he threw for 346 yards and accounted for three touchdowns in Clemson’s 25-24 come-from-behind win against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Despite a weak quarterback draft class, he stayed, getting some advice from Vick, a fellow Hampton Roads product and current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback.
“He asked me: ‘Do you want to be the best?’” Boyd said. “He was like, ‘If you want to be the best, go back to school and do everything to make sure you do that.’
“I didn’t want to make that step and regret not coming back. I think that I’m excited and know that this is the right move for me.”
Boyd doesn’t care about racking up more stats. Another 3,500-yard season won’t enhance his college legacy. But guiding Clemson, the overwhelming pick of the media to win another league title — and possibly something larger — is at the top of his list of goals.
He’ll have ample opportunities. Georgia, a likely top-five team, awaits the Tigers in the season opener. They play Florida State at home, where they’ve been largely successful against the Seminoles recently.
Then there’s the regular-season finale against South Carolina, a team Clemson hasn’t beaten under Boyd, losing four straight. Clowney, the Gamecocks’ all-everything defensive end, made waves at last week’s SEC media days by saying Boyd was “scared” whenever he played South Carolina.
Naturally, Boyd refuted Clowney’s claim but didn’t engage in any raising of the stakes.
“That’s not on my radar right now,” Boyd said. “I’m not afraid of anybody. Never been in my nature. Never been in my character. I’m a competitive guy and I’ll compete against whoever wants to compete. …
“That’ll all take care of itself down the road.”
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