|by Nikki Hood|
However, the decision for the redshirt junior quarterback isn’t quite as easy as wanting his name on the stadium.
Boyd set numerous records this season and has enjoyed a stellar two seasons as Clemson’s starting quarterback, but now faces the toughest decision of his life as he decides whether to return for a final season – and all of the accolades and team goals that will surely follow – or follow his dream into the NFL.
In an exclusive interview with Tim Boyd, Tajh’s father, Mr. Boyd spoke about the circumstances and thought processes surrounding his son’s decision, and told TigerNet that Tajh hasn’t made a firm decision on whether to go or stay, but he thinks that Tajh will be at Clemson for one more season.
“He doesn’t know what he’s going to do yet. He is truly 50/50 right now and he needs to know more information,” Mr. Boyd told TigerNet. “He is just trying to make the right decision. We are still trying to wait and hear from different people get more information. Right now, I think he’s staying. If he made the decision to leave right now, I would feel like he was rushing and I don’t want him to rush the decision. He has until January 15th and I don’t want him rushing.
“If you’ve got to rush to leave, then it’s probably not the right decision. I’ve been told that this quarterback class is weak and Tajh could make a move with a good performance in the combine and in camps. He could really move up and compete. The Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU really turned a lot of scouts’ heads. They think he could really shake the quarterback class up. But at the same time, when you make that decision to leave based on what you are hearing, you are taking a chance because there is no definite.”
Mr. Boyd said that Tajh wants to be able to compete for a starting job in the NFL, not get drafted and just sit on someone’s bench.
“He is thinking about a lot of things. He doesn’t feel like he has played in enough games,” Boyd said. “When he leaves, he wants to be able to go in and compete for a starting job just like he has his entire life. He doesn’t want to just get drafted and sit on the bench. He hasn’t graduated yet. He wants to get his degree because he doesn’t want to leave for the NFL and then have to come back to get it. He took the job at Clemson and he hasn’t completed the job yet. Clemson is his family and he knows that if he comes back it could be a special season. He hasn’t talked about a potential national championship because he doesn’t talk about anything. He just feels like leaving Clemson early would be like having unfinished business.”
However, a weak quarterback draft class – and the struggles late in the season of several high-profile quarterbacks – makes this an intriguing opportunity for Tajh to see what the NFL has to offer.
“The opportunity in the NFL is intriguing because of the draft class. It’s something that he can’t look past and he can’t completely shut out the NFL,” Mr. Boyd said. “I don’t know how much of an impact the LSU game had. He got a fourth or fifth round grade before the game. And now it looks like he could go in the late second or early third round. But, he could move up with the combines because there is no bona fide first round quarterback pick like there was last year with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. He wants to be able to go into camps and show what he can do like he did in high school, college and at the U.S. Army All American Game. In the Army game, he was added late and wasn’t even picked. They just added an extra quarterback on the East side. The coach told him that they couldn’t play all of the quarterbacks and the guy who performed the best would play the most. Tajh earned the MVP and he wasn’t even invited.”
Mr. Boyd said that Tajh will probably wait until the January 15th deadline to make his decision.
“He will probably wait until January 15th. He’s going to wait and hear from different people,” Mr. Boyd said. “He obviously can’t talk to agents and scouts, but I have been talking to a few people. I’ve been getting info back from certain people. We are going to sit down and have a family discussion and decide what is best for Tajh.”
As a father, however, Mr. Boyd thinks his son’s career would best be served by returning for a final season at Clemson.
“The way it’s looking to me, he is going to come back,” Mr. Boyd said. “You just don’t rush a situation like this. To me, it’s a hurry up type of thing and I don’t like the way it’s rushed. As a parent, I don’t want him to have any regrets. I also don’t want him to just say ‘I’m staying’ when he feels like he can be competitive. You just don’t work hard since you were seven years old with nobody really giving him anything to pass up a big opportunity like this. I don’t want him to shortcut himself. As a parent, I want him to get his degree. I don’t want him coming back and getting injured either. He has the opportunity to have a really good season next year.”
Swinney told Tajh that there are a lot of reasons for coming back, and Mr. Boyd agrees.
“There’s a lot of risk but he can have a lot of success,” he said. “He can only get better and that’s what Dabo and I talked about. Dabo told him that he has the opportunity to have his name on top of the stadium with all of those elite guys. That’s what I would like to see him do - to break records and establish himself as the best quarterback to come through Clemson. You can’t put value on that. The NFL can wait one more year because it’s going to be there.”
The specter of an injury looms, however, and Mr. Boyd said the family has looked into making sure that Tajh is protected financially in the unfortunate event that something disastrous happens.
“The first thing we discussed with Dabo is insurance because that was one of my main concerns,” Mr. Boyd said. “He is eligible now. I went and talked to Jeff Davis earlier this year about insurance, but he wasn’t eligible yet. He is now and that’s good.”
The chance to compete for a national title is another good reason to return, and Mr. Boyd said that you can’t just throw away the hard work and chemistry – the chemistry that exists between his son and wide receiver Nuk Hopkins - that have been built over the summers with hard work and dedication.
“It’s not like he is coming back without a team around him,” he said. “I’ve never seen a connection like Tajh and Nuk have. That comes from a lot of off season training and chemistry. If Nuk leaves, the other guys will have to step up and get out there in the summer with Tajh. That chemistry is important for games like LSU. LSU couldn’t stop them. LSU knew nine out of ten times that Tajh was going to Nuk and they couldn’t stop them. They didn’t know which side the ball was coming to or when the ball was coming. People say that you can’t defend the pass and I believe that. They know what each other is thinking. Nuk told Dabo that he would like to come back, but if the right opportunity presents itself he has to do what’s best for him.”
Nikki Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org