GREENSBORO, N.C. — Reporters gathered around Tajh Boyd at 2:29 p.m. on Sunday for the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff, jostling for position to try and talk to the Clemson quarterback.
But before they could, Clemson linebacker Spencer Shuey sent a lighthearted question Boyd’s way.
“So what’s it been like for you off the field? What do you do in your free time?” Shuey asked.
“Man, off the field I’m killing the circuit out there, but in a good way,” Boyd said. “ … I fish, I sing, haven’t hunted yet, but… ”
“Would you like to sing for us right now?” Shuey asked Boyd. “I know you like country.”
Boyd loved the idea.
“Y’all ready for this?” he asked those gathered around the table, garnering some laughs and a bit of applause.
Then Boyd unleashed his inner Eric Church and calmly and unashamedly sang a few lines of Church’s song “Springsteen.”
“To this day when I hear that song, I see you standing there on that lawn…” Boyd soothingly sang. He busted out a few more lines and then smiled and nodded his head.
“That’s all I got for you right now,” Boyd said to the media. “What’s going on, though? What y’all got for me?”
And then came the avalanche of questions.
While a few reporters trickled away, the vast majority stayed next to Boyd, listening to what one of the Heisman Trophy favorites had to say. Boyd was projected as a early round pick in last year’s NFL Draft, but instead he opted to return to Clemson for his fifth season. Now the Tigers enter 2013 as legitimate national title contenders.
“Why not go out there and give it one last shot?” Boyd said, a few minutes after his vocal solo. “I don’t want to regret anything I do. This is the right move for me.”
Shuey sat across the table from Boyd. Dozens of recorders were plopped near Boyd, and none were near Shuey. He listened while his teammate talked about why he decided to come back for one more season.
Boyd said he never really second-guessed his decision to return for a fifth year. He talked to his mentor Michael Vick and mulled the situation over. Boyd and Vick are from the same area in Virginia and Boyd said Vick has been “insightful” and given him advice throughout his career at Clemson. Vick asked Boyd if he wanted to be the best. Of course he does. So here he is, ready to give it one last go-around.
“When I decided to come to Clemson from the get-go I said I wanted to win a championship,” Boyd said. “I’m excited to get one last shot at it.”
That last shot starts with a big-time test against Southeastern Conference powerhouse Georgia on Aug. 31. The Tigers then square off against ACC foes North Carolina State, Florida State and Virginia, among others, in the pursuit of perfection.
They close the season against Jadeveon Clowney-led South Carolina. Clowney recently called Boyd “scared,” but that doesn’t faze Boyd.
He said he’s not scared of anyone. That’s simply not in his nature. And that’s why he feels Clemson has a legitimate shot to win the national championship.
Last season’s thrilling, last-second 25-24 Chick-fil-A Bowl win over Louisiana State capped an 11-2 season for the Tigers. Boyd called the win over LSU a “stepping stone” for the program. Despite losing deep threat DeAndre Hopkins, the Tigers have most of their key players back.
On paper, Clemson has all the pieces to compete for a championship. Along with Boyd, wide receiver Sammy Watkins and linebacker Shuey will look to lead Clemson to its ultimate destination.
After close to 12 minutes of listening to Boyd talk, Shuey answered some questions of his own. Most of them were about Boyd and his decision to come back for one more year.
“We kind of left him alone, let him decide that himself,” Shuey said. “He made that decision to help the team win, not to help pad his stats. He definitely had the team in mind.”
Maryland cornerback Dexter McDougle has lined up against Boyd. He’s seen what he can do on his feet and in the air. McDougle is also from Virginia, so he knew him coming out of high school. McDougle said he thinks the Tigers can realistically compete for a championship with Boyd as their anchor.
“I was talking to him,” McDougle said. “He wants to play for a national championship. I think they have a shot. They’re a very good team.”
Boyd said he loves having the target on his back. That’s why he plays football — to be the best. Anything short of a championship will be a disappointment. That’s exactly why Boyd’s back for a fifth season and it’s why he’s eager for the season to start.
“That’s what you work for,” Boyd said. “You work to get in opportunities like this, moments like this. When you get it you don’t want to let go of it, man.”
Published on July 21, 2013 at 7:11 pm
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