Boyd finds redemption in Charlotte

by - Senior Writer -

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Clemson quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS So. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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stood in the hallway outside of the locker in late December of 2010 and promised, with tears in his eyes and his voice shaking with emotion, that it would never happen again.

The “it” that Boyd referred to was a losing season. Clemson had just completed a loss to South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, dropping Clemson to 6-7 on the season. Boyd had come on in relief of Kyle ParkerKyle Parker
#11 6-1, 200
Jacksonville, FL

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after Parker’s injury, and he almost led the Tigers to the comeback win.

Boyd said at that time that he wanted to lead the Tigers back to Charlotte in 2011 – this time to the ACC Championship Game instead of a non-descript bowl game in December.

Saturday night, he made good on that promise as he completed 20-of-29 passes for 240 yards, ran for 34 yards and was named the Most Valuable Player of the ACC Championship Game in Clemson’s 38-10 demolition of No. 5 Virginia Tech.

In the postgame press conference, the ACC Championship trophy sitting beside him, Boyd was reminded of what happened 65 feet down the hall and 11 months prior.

“We all have dreams and aspirations, and that was definitely one of the goals coming into the season,” Boyd said of the desire of a return trip to Charlotte. “Coach [Swinney] also promised us that things would change. He's like, ‘I promise you, I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure we win games.’ He went out there and went out on a limb and hired Coach Morris who came from way removed in high school. Coach is like, ‘this is going to work.’ We believed in everything he told us, and definitely came out there and just put the plan to use.”

Boyd said it was the hard work the team put in over the summer that paid off in early December, a night when Clemson fans were able pelt the field with oranges long before the clock read zero.

“It's just a pleasure working with the guys,” he said. “This off season, this summer, we were running gassers at 5:45 in the morning, and every gasser we're counting down, first game, second game, championships, it went in order like that. We got a lot of help out here and a lot of support, and we're one big happy family, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.”

Boyd had thrown seven interceptions and just four touchdown passes in his previous four outings – three of those Clemson losses – but was able to find his confidence on the big stage in Charlotte. He said the team managed to overcome the sense of complacency fostered by an 8-0 start.

“Somehow, you’ve just got to find out and dig deep into yourself,” he said. “Obviously you do get a sense of complacency, and if you let it, if you let the outside world influence how you carry yourself and how you act, I mean, that's just one of the life lessons learned. I feel like that's one of the things that happened, and it happened for a reason, to let you know that all you can really do is believe in yourself and your family, which is my teammates. I mean, I'm just proud to be here”

Boyd said the Tigers used an “us against the world” mentality in the game, and the result has his team making plans for Miami in early January.

“Again, this is one of those games where nobody gives us a chance,” he said. “Coach Swinney walked in before the game, and he's like, I really don't like talking about it but I couldn't help myself but to watch ESPN today, and he's like, nobody picked us to win, again. Maybe that was a problem with a few losses, but I do feel like we match up well with anybody in the country. I feel like we have the best players in the country here at Clemson, and we just had some mishaps here and there. But when things are rolling, they're definitely rolling. I love it here, enjoy it here. The players are great, and we're going to Miami.”

All because Boyd made a promise.

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