FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Tajh Boyd era at Clemson was ushered in just about 40 games and one half ago.
A redshirt freshman, he entered with the Tigers down 26-7 to South Carolina - just after his predecessor, Kyle Parker, misfired a pick-six. The Hampton, Va., native made some throws, missed some throws and fumbled twice (losing one) - a performance typical to the stage he was thrust upon. Next time out, the former five-star prospect played the majority of the snaps in a near rally in the 2010 Meineke Bowl versus South Florida.
Orange Bowl interview with Tajh Boyd QB
Three years later, the senior is scheduled to make his 40th consecutive start Friday, as No. 12 Clemson (10-2) meets No. 7 Ohio State (12-1) in Miami Gardens’ Sun Life Stadium.
In those 40 appearances, Boyd won 31 of them and one more ties a school record (Rodney Williams, 1985-88). By notching an eighth top-25 victory, he can move into yet another place all by himself in the Clemson annals.
"He's set the standard. He really has," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "When you look up every record at Clemson, it says Tajh Boyd, and it's not all about that - it's about how he has represented this program. How he has embraced being the face and voice of the program and taken pride in that.
Boyd's legacy on, off the field
Morris says he's set the standard
"There's a lot of things that (factor in) if you're going to be the quarterback at Clemson, everything counts. Everything counts. Tajh Boyd has done a tremendous job. I know he's very confident in the guys that are going to be in this program when he's gone."
And to think, the run all began with a trip to the optometrist in the spring of 2011 (no, really).
Chad Morris had been hired that January and brought a complete overhaul to the system Boyd was recruited for.
"When I first got there, Tajh struggled to catch a shotgun snap," Morris said. "Really, our first spring we're installing our offense and he really struggled catching the snap - just something that we take for granted. To the point where it really alarmed me and I actually contacted our training staff to send him to the eye doctor because I thought he needed glasses.
"They came back 20/20 and I said, 'Wow, something's wrong here, Tajh, we really have to figure it out.'"
Boyd remembers a more candid conversation, in a relationship that he's grown to admire.
"I tell people about our first spring together - it wasn't the best spring," he said, "but he pretty much told me, 'Man, either you're going to get it done or I'm going to find somebody that will.' Just somebody who can put their foot down and let you know what you need to work on - not just as a player and a person - you got to love it."
The rest of their story is found in record books, both school and conference, but Morris says that just scratches the surface.
"Very few get to see what he does off the field," Morris said. "To watch Tajh and how he interacts with our fanbase, community and university - Tajh is truly the face of our university. To watch the accolades he's gotten and the records he's broken on the football field. He's done that much and more off the field.
"I think whether he takes another snap or not, what he's done for this program and university has been instrumental and he's definitely set the standard for whoever the next quarterback is going to be."
After his final 60 minutes in orange and white, Boyd transitions to NFL draft workout mode, but with the national audience Friday night, that showcase begins early.
"Everything towards the end of this process is going to be a side effect on how high I go," Boyd said. "Obviously you'll have the Senior Bowl and Pro Day and all of those things - it's more so me trying to end on a higher note. Playing on this stage and venue and playing a BCS bowl two of three years is awesome in itself, but we need to come out here and hopefully end with a BCS victory."
Despite a season as efficient as any he's put up in TigerTown, throwing for 289.4 yards a game (and playing the fourth quarter of only half Clemson's games), Boyd's stock has dropped from first round projections to third-to-fourth round in CBSSports.com's latest mock draft.
Gunning for that "higher note" with something to prove to NFL GMs and fans alike - Boyd says he won't hold back.
"I just want to go out there and lay it all on the field," Boyd said. "When I come out of this game there needs to be no regrets and nobody questioning my toughness and my competitiveness.”
Clemson moves into a possible three-way battle for his job come next season - a transition the sure diehard Tiger fan moving forward has invested a lot of time in this year.
"I feel like we've set a foundation here to a point where we're going to be successful as a program no matter who takes the reins," Boyd said. "Hopefully I put my stamp on those guys and they learned a lot from me at everything, good and bad. (Like) I learned some things from the guys here before me."
Meanwhile, he's letting everybody else sort out his "legacy," keeping his focus in a place that sums up his career well.
"When you start adding legacies and that nature - that's what people make it to be," Boyd said. "Honestly, it's about making sure it's the best game I've played thus far. Not just for me but for this program and university."