By Will Vandervort.
It should be a fun experience for Tajh Boyd
By Will Vandervort
When he jogs into Scott Stadium this coming Saturday for pregame warm ups prior to eighth-ranked Clemson’s clash with the Virginia Cavaliers, Tajh Boyd will look into the stands and notice a group of kids from his hometown of Hampton, Va.—a two hour and 15 minute drive up I-64 to Charlottesville—cheering him on.
“That’s going to be fun,” the Tigers’ quarterback said.
Though he will not be cheering for Boyd, Virginia quarterback David Watford, who also grew up in Hampton, will be watching Boyd closely, as he did many years ago when he was a freshman quarterback at Hampton High School and was going against Boyd and crosstown rival Phoebus High School.
Watford, now at sophomore at Virginia, could only watch in amazement as Boyd, playing with a torn ACL, guided Phoebus to a 42-6 victory. Boyd was cool, calm and collected as he completed 9 of 12 passes for 100 yards and touchdown to his tight end, Daquan Romero, now the starting weakside linebacker for the Cavaliers.
“We kind of crushed them a little bit,” Boyd recalled Tuesday.
Things weren’t so good for Watford on the other side of the field. The youngster only completed 4 of 14 passes for 14 yards and threw an interception in the loss. Though he was disappointed in defeat, it was a learning experience for Watford as he watched how Boyd handled the adversity of playing while very much injured, and was still a factor in the outcome of the game.
“I saw what he was doing, how good he was and the potential that he had,” Watford said to the Newport News Daily Press on Monday. “He kind of took me under his wing when I was in high school, so we’re pretty close from that.”
Boyd says he and Watford still communicate today. He has been following Watford’s career at Virginia, especially this season, which is his first year as the Cavaliers’ starter. Boyd has been impressed with how the sophomore has handled himself in what has been a disappointing 2-6 campaign thus far.
“It’s always good to see a guy perform like that,” Boyd said. “As a person he is a great kid in general and has great values and great morals. He has a supporting cast from his family beside him.
“As a guy who is from the same area as he is, as an older guy, you want to make sure you can help out in any way possible. So if he calls and asks for advice and how to handle certain situations, I’m going to be there. I think that just comes from being from that area and also being a mentor in that situation as well.”
Last week, Watford set Virginia single-game passing records for completions (43) and attempts (61), while throwing for 376 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-25 loss to Georgia Tech. For the year, Watford has thrown for 1,715 yards and seven scores, while completing nearly 61 percent of his passes.
“He is a good quarterback and can run, but he is really a good passer,” Boyd said. “He is very poised. He was the same way in high school. He was actually less of a runner in high school than he is now so it has been good to watch him grow through the maturation process and kind of see him become a more mature quarterback.
“He has been doing a really good job leading them.”
Like those before him—Ronald Curry, Michael Vick, Marcus Vick and Tyrod Taylor—Boyd is proud to be from the 757 area code and he always tries to give back. He wants to show the kids that they can be just like him if they focus on what’s important and work hard in both school and on the football field to achieve it.
“Just to see some of those kids and to have an impact on their lives is probably the most important thing to me,” Boyd said. “I just have to keep on continuing to be a positive role model and try to carry myself in the best light as possible.”
During the off-season, Boyd speaks at the banquet and helps with football camp in the summer for his local area youth organization, where he played football for the Mustangs back in the day.
“It is something that you enjoy and it’s something you can take for granted sometimes,” Boyd said.
Boyd is not going to take anything for granted this week when he jogs into the stadium on Saturday afternoon and sees all the current Mustangs up in the stands; and then when he looks over on the other side of the field and sees his friend and protégé making the people of Hampton just as proud as he has made them the last four years.
“You have to enjoy the experience,” he said.