CLEMSON — Tajh Boyd is the engine behind Clemson’s offensive success: with 28 touchdowns against nine interceptions, the junior quarterback averages 294.1 passing yards per game, and his 172 pass efficiency rating is second-best nationally.
Those numbers will make him a hot topic among NFL draft observers. When asked Tuesday, Boyd didn’t commit for a senior season.
“It's still up in the air,” Boyd said. “It's one of those deals where you control all you can control and take it from there. At the same time, I don't think there's any place better than here.”
When asked why he would return, Boyd spoke glowingly about the collegiate experience.
“Just for those guys beside me,” he said. “Things like this, teams like this, the camaraderie, I get a chance to talk to a lot of guys, who’ve come and gone, guys who are seniors, going to have options, about to leave. You work for those guys behind you. Just for the process. The process is the most fun thing about it. The games are fun, but just the memories you gain from the offseason, the things you go through with teammates, the fights, the arguments, it’s family. You won’t ever have that again.
"I know when I talk to a lot of those guys (in the NFL), they don’t even hang out with those guys. It’s all business. It’s somewhat of a business (here), but not to that aspect. It’s still a family, a brotherhood. “
Equally important is the shot at a national championship. Clemson is No.11 in the current BCS standings, and with a solid offensive and defensive core returning, the Tigers could begin in the preseason top 10.
“I know coming into Clemson, one of my main things was that I wanted to win championships,” he said. “I feel like this team is coming to the point where it’s going to become a powerhouse, it’s going to be consistent, and there’s going to be opportunities to win the national championship here. That’s how we feel. We feel that way strongly, and I don’t think anyone can tell you any different. You’ve got to enjoy playing here, and I enjoy playing here.”
Inexact science: Two years ago, Clemson’s Class of 2011 was hailed as one of the top 10 in the nation and one of the best in Clemson history.
As the class’s sophomore season wraps up, it is a reminder that recruiting is far from an exact or immediate science. Per Rivals.com, 10 of Clemson’s signees were either four or five-star signees. Entering Saturday’s game with N.C. State, two of them – five-star wide receiver Sammy Watkins and four-star defensive end Corey Crawford – are listed as starters on the Tigers’ depth chart.
One five-star signee – tailback Mike Bellamy – is no longer at Clemson. He left last spring for academic reasons, and following a brief stop at East Mississippi Community College, is now at Eastern Arizona College. He has 139 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.
Five-star linebacker Stephone Anthony has split time at middle linebacker with Spencer Shuey, and fellow five-star linebacker Tony Steward has been a reserve at “Will” linebacker behind seniors Tig Willard and Corico Wright.
Four-star linebacker signee Lateek Townsend has seen only 28 defensive snaps this season. Four-star tight end signee Eric Mac Lain is currently converting to offensive tackle. Four-star cornerback Cortez Davis has 77 snaps over the last three games and has moved into the regular rotation following season-ending injuries to Darius Robinson and Martin Jenkins.
Tuesday, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney questioned the immediate-gratification culture, especially when comparing recruits with Watkins, who was the consensus national freshman of the year and one of four freshmen ever to be named first-team Associated Press All-American.
“That’s what’s so bad about a guy like Sammy Watkins – that’s the expectation,” he said. “It’s not the expectation. It should be the exception. That’s what I hate about recruiting ratings. Guys get better. It’s Spencer Shuey, a guy who’s worked his butt off. A fourth-year player should be better as a junior than a freshman or sophomore. Development is the way it is. Some guys you have to teach a little more, discipline a little more. We’ve all seen guys who weren’t very good as freshmen and sophomores, not what we thought they would be, and develop into great juniors and seniors.”
McDowell banged up: Swinney said junior tailback Rod McDowell (sprained toe) is the only player with a significant injury this week. McDowell didn’t practice Monday, but hoped to practice in a green no-contact jersey Tuesday. Sophomore tailback D.J. Howard (twisted ankle) practiced Monday, as did sophomore receiver Sammy Watkins, who left Saturday’s 45-10 win over Maryland after aggravating an ankle bruise on the opening kickoff.