By Will Vandervort
It’s hard to imagine, but Tajh Boyd could be wearing a scarlet and gray uniform in the Discover Orange Bowl instead of an orange and white one.
Clemson’s quarterback says he was really close to going to Ohio State—the Tigers’ opponent in the Jan. 3 bowl game—when he was going through the recruiting process back in 2008.
“They finished number two as far as me going there,” Boyd said. “It was a real difficult choice. Troy Smith was my favorite player growing up in high school. I tried to emulate him and kind of get in the same mold. Getting a chance to go there in high school and see the pageantry, just the history behind that program is pretty awesome.
“It was a close call, but ultimately I came here and you will hear a little bit of things from Ohio State here and there, but overall I had a great time.”
In the final days before his decision, Boyd was visited by then Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney at his Hampton, Va., home. And though the Boyd’s enjoyed their visit with Tressel, Swinney came in and blew them away, especially Boyd’s mother Carla.
“Dabo was so genuine,” she said. “Everyone else who came to see us was nice and all, but it seemed more like it was business than letting us get to know who they are. Dabo came in and blew us away. He was so nice and personable.
“He let us into his life and his experiences. We knew he was a guy we could trust to take care of our son and be a positive role model for him over the next four years. We knew we wanted Tajh to go to Clemson right after that visit.”
As we all know, Boyd did come to Clemson and became arguably one of the best quarterbacks in school history. He holds 52 school records and 11 Atlantic Coast Conference records, including 127 total touchdowns. He also owns the ACC record for touchdown passes with 102, the first quarterback in ACC history to surpass the 100-touchdown mark.
He is also second in ACC history in total offense and passing yardage. Those numbers are even more impressive considering he did it three years. After redshirting his freshman season, he played sparingly as a redshirt freshman behind then quarterback Kyle Parker.
Boyd says he had no regrets on his decision not to go to Ohio State because they had someone who was pretty good that would have been ahead of him on the depth chart as well, plus there was another guy they were recruiting that was a couple of years behind.
“I wanted to come in and compete at the highest level,” Boyd said. “I think it would have worked out either way as far as my playing opportunities. KP played here and Ohio State with Terrel Pryor was kind of similar, but I did hear about Braxton (Miller) on my visit up there. Some of the alumni and some of the players up there talked about Braxton.”
Boyd and Miller have become two of the top quarterbacks in the country heading into the Orange Bowl as both are in the top 15 nationally in passing efficiency and both have led their respective teams to double digit victories in each of the last two seasons. But what a lot of people don’t know is they are very good friends.
“He and I actually built a great relationship over the years,” Boyd said. “I called him on Sunday (after the Big 10 Championship Game) and asked if he was alright from the previous game and I told them boys they better be ready.”