Manuel and Boyd finally square off

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – The first time Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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heard the name E.J. Manuel, he was in elementary school in Virginia.

It was a name he would hear repeatedly growing up, even though Manuel was a year older than Boyd, and the two would finally play against each other in middle school, two quarterbacks destined for a stage bigger than the Pop Warner fields around Hampton and Virginia Beach.

This week, the two quarterbacks will come full circle and play against each other for possibly the last time – Manuel is a redshirt senior- as Boyd leads No. 10 and undefeated Clemson (3-0) into Tallahassee to No. 4 and undefeated Manuel and Florida St.

“I’ve known about E.J. since elementary school,” Boyd told TigerNet Tuesday. “I heard his name a lot, growing up a couple of miles from each other. We have played against each other in middle school and in the rec league, too. We both played quarterback back then, too. I went to school in the same district as E.J., so I have known about him for a long time.”

Boyd said that while he concentrated on the nuances of quarterback, Manuel played whatever sport was in season.

“He has always been a terrific athlete,” Boyd said. “He ran track and he played basketball and he was good at all of them. He was one of those multi-sport guys growing up.”

However, the two didn’t manage to play against each other in high school, despite the proximity of Boyd’s Phoebus High School and Manuel’s Bayside High School.

“I always wanted to play against him again,” he said. “But his school never quite reached where we got to, and we never had the opportunity to play against each other. It would have been a fun matchup. “

Boyd said that he and Manuel could have become college teammates.

“I really didn’t pay attention to where E.J. wound up,” he said. “And then my senior year I saw he went to Florida St. I thought I might get a chance to play against him, but I didn’t know if I was going to play in the ACC or not. And then [FSU head coach] Jimbo [Fisher] called me and he offered me a scholarship. And he invited me to come down to Tallahassee for a visit. And I thought, ‘I am not about to take a visit to the same school where E.J. is. We were in the same situation as far as playing quarterback, and he was just a year ahead of me, and I didn’t know how that would work out.”

Despite the fact the Manuel is in his fifth year at Florida St., and Boyd is in his fourth year at Clemson, this will be the first time the two have faced each other on the field since middle school – two years ago, Boyd watched from the sidelines in Doak Campbell as Manuel engineered a 16-13 Seminole win, and Manuel watched from the sidelines last season as Boyd and Clemson won over Florida St.

“I was excited for him, and I pulled for him when we weren’t playing each other,” Boyd said. “I used to pull for him in high school, and I’ve been disappointed that we haven’t gotten the chance to play each other in college. You always want to play against the best, and when the experts talk about quarterbacks, they consider him one of the best. I am excited about that.”

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