By William Qualkinbush.
By William Qualkinbush
The argument for who is the best player on the Clemson football team can be simplified into one concise statement.
The face of Clemson athletics is Tajh Boyd.
This goes beyond the football field. Boyd is a charismatic figure, charismatic enough that no one wonders if the guy is ever in a room. He works a crowd like a seasoned politician, a trait that helps him garner support on the awards circuit.
Sometimes his ability to play football can get lost in the shuffle. There will be some who will shackle him with labels like “system quarterback” or say he is the product of talented teammates. But there is no doubt what makes the Clemson offense go.
Boyd threw for almost 3,900 yards last season with 36 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions. He shored up his primary weakness by rushing for 514 yards and 10 touchdowns, becoming the Tigers’ top short-yardage runner in the process.
Boyd’s talent is immense, which is why his offensive coordinator holds him to such a high standard. Chad Morris has helped mold Boyd from a stud prospect into a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate and the reigning, as well as the 2013 preseason, ACC Player of the Year. The third year of the partnership between the two should result in even better numbers for the Clemson starting quarterback.
Leadership is another major component of Boyd’s makeup. His teammates universally respect him, which seems like it should be more common than it is among starters at such a prominent position. He does not get into trouble and is careful to phrase things carefully but truthfully around the media. He can be a rah-rah guy on the sidelines and in the huddle, as well.
If Clemson is to achieve its loftiest team goals this season—including a national title—Boyd is the one piece that must remain in place. An injury at quarterback would change the entire focus for the Tigers this season. A disappointing season in terms of performance will almost certainly go hand-in-hand with a downturn in the team’s win-loss record. Dabo Swinney and his football team cannot survive without Boyd playing a prominent role.
Whether Boyd earns a bunch of individual awards, or not, it doesn’t really matter. What matters more than anything else is that he distributes the football effectively and efficiently to a stocked stable of young playmakers. If this happens, Clemson has every opportunity to have a special season.
But everything grinds to a screeching halt if something bad happens to Boyd. This is exactly the reason why there is no one on Clemson’s football team better than him.