By Will Vandervort
When Tajh Boyd decided to return to Clemson last January, he did so with many goals in mind.
He wanted to win a national championship. He wanted to win a second Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. He wanted to win a second straight ACC Player of the Year honor. He wanted to be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and he wanted to beat South Carolina. We all know how all that went down, but not all was a wash.
Boyd returned to Clemson and led the Tigers’ to a third straight 10-win season, set numerous Clemson and ACC records along the way, while also guiding his school back to the Orange Bowl for the second time in three years.
But the biggest accomplishment of all was when he walked across the stage at Littlejohn Coliseum as a Clemson graduate earlier this month.
“He does it right on and off the field,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “He academically performs and athletically performs. We are able to recruit the best of the best. Great players want to come and be a part of this and be around a guy like Tajh Boyd.
“That was all a part of the vision. Again, he is doing things that had not been done at a place. Yeah, he could go to this place and do some things and he could go to this place that has already done a lot of great things or he could come to Clemson and help me build a program and do some things that had not been done in a long, long, time.”
As we all know, Boyd came to Clemson and became arguably one of the best quarterbacks in school history. He holds 52 school records and 11 ACC 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 Kyle Parker.
In 2013, Boyd has thrown for 3,473 yards and 29 touchdowns, while also rushing for 273 more yards and nine touchdowns. He has also guided the Tigers to a 10-2 overall record, which is no small feat.
“I have no regrets at all in coming back to Clemson,” Boyd said. “If I had not come back, I probably would have regretted that decision. Coming back to Clemson for my senior year wasn’t just about football. It was about experiencing college life one last time. It’s about those friendships and experiencing things that will last a life time.”
The Clemson Insider’s Offensive Player of the Year has one more thing left to do at Clemson before he begins the next phase of his life – beat Ohio State in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 3. If Boyd can do that he will end his career with a 32nd victory as a starting quarterback, tying former Tiger great Rodney Williams as the all-time winning-est quarterback in Clemson history.
Heading into the Orange Bowl, this year’s senior class of 19 players has a 37-15 overall record, including a 31-8 mark the last three years. The 37 wins are tied for the fourth most in Clemson history and the most since the senior class of 1991 finished with a 39-8-1 record.
This 2013 senior class already has a significant class record on its resume. The 55-31 win over Georgia Tech on Nov. 14 gave this class a 24-8 record in ACC regular season play, the most conference wins for a senior class in school history.
And, finally, the win over The Citadel gave this senior group a 24-4 record at home, tied for the most wins in a four-year period with the 2012 seniors, who were also 24-4.
“It’s all about making memories,” Boyd said. “The senior class that we have was not very big when it was recruited and it got smaller as time went along. I’m trying to make the most out of my time with these guys and that is the biggest thing for me right now.”
And he has no regrets.