By Will Vandervort
With all the talk surrounding South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and his decision not to play in the minutes leading up to last week’s win over Kentucky, teams with high-profile players all across the country are appreciative not to be in the situation the University of South Carolina is in this week.
Included on that short list of schools is Clemson, where its highest profile player is without a doubt the best representative of Clemson University. Like Clowney, quarterback Tajh Boyd is considered one of the top 10 players in college football. However, Boyd has managed to stay out of the news on things that have happened off the field and has instead let his play on it do his talking.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says Boyd’s leadership and dedication to his school and the responsibilities that come along with being the quarterback at Clemson is “Priceless.”
“He is special,” Swinney said. “It is so much fun to be around a guy like that. We are going to miss him when he is gone because he takes such great pride in his preparation, especially this year because (he has only one class).
“He is just like another coach. He is over here all the time watching tape. He does a lot of things people don’t see. He is very humble and he is easy to talk to. He will go out of his way to talk to people. He does not have a sense of entitlement or anything like that.
“He loves playing. He loves being a Clemson Tiger. He loves all the things that come with being the starting quarterback at Clemson.”
Boyd understands being the face of the program comes with a lot of reasonability and he embraces it. The Heisman Trophy candidate says he actually enjoys being out in front.
“This is one of those deals where it is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said. “Even at the next level, even if you are the face of a franchise, it is not as significant as being the face of a college university or program because you are exploited that much more.
“I’m just trying to take everything in stride and enjoy it. I only have so much time left so I’m trying to make the most out of it.”
Boyd loves to play for and represent Clemson, he says, because “it is the best atmosphere and best support group you can have in college football.”
The quarterback has admitted in the past he thought about going into the NFL after the Chick-fil-Bowl last January, but he felt he still had a thing or two left to achieve at Clemson before going pro. So far he has guided the Tigers to a 5-0 start and a No. 3 national ranking, while also being on the verge of breaking just about every ACC or school passing record there is.
And though some may think Clowney is sitting out and having the kind of season he is because he is worried about getting injured and possibly hurting his draft status—he was listed as the No. 1 overall pick before the season by many media outlets—Boyd has a different philosophy when it comes to that.
He is going to play and he is going to play hard. Two weeks ago he stretched out his body at the goal line while trying to score against Wake Forest. And then there is last week, where after hurting his left hand—which is okay by the way—he comes back out on the next offensive series and throws a 91-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins.
“I think about (the NFL) to an extent, but not to where it is more important than this program,” Boyd said. “If I’m not going to give everything I have when I step out on that field, then there is no reason for me to be on that field.
“That’s why you have insurance policies, right? I think if something significant happens, my family will be covered. But for me, my main goal is to lead this team and do everything I possibly can to win this game whether it is run the ball forty times or throw the ball forty times. You do whatever it takes with no questions asked.
“I think it all depends on the player. But the way I was shaped and molded, every time you step out onto that field you give it everything you got.”
And those are the reasons why Tajh Boyd is priceless.
“He is a joy to be around,” Swinney said. “You love to see him every day. He smiles every day. Those are the things that make him special. He is a great player, but it is all those other things to me that make him rare.”