CLEMSON — Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Tajh Boyd will return to Clemson for his senior season.
The junior quarterback announced his intention to hold off on the NFL. His return will help keep the Tigers record-setting, fast-paced attack moving forward in 2013.
“As explosive as we’ve been, there’s more to attain,” Boyd said Wednesday. “There’s more out there for us.”
Boyd has led the Tigers to a 21-6 record the past two seasons. He broke his own school records this past season with 3,896 passing yards and 36 touchdowns. He was also second on the team in rushing with 514 yards and led Clemson with 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Clemson defeated LSU 25-24 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve to finish with at 11-2, its best mark since the program’s 12-0, national championship season in 1981.
Boyd was the star of the bowl win, accounting for 368 yards of offense and three touchdowns. He said his strong showing had him pointed toward the pros. Then Boyd began talking with friends, including Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen – a former Clemson teammate – and Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick. Both urged him to be 100 percent with his decision if he chose to leave college. Boyd discovered he wasn’t fully done at Clemson.
“I thought it was pretty clear at first,” Boyd said. “Then it got pretty cloudy the past five days.”
Boyd was told by NFL draft advisors he’d go anywhere from the second to the fourth rounds. Allen, who attended Boyd’s announcement, was given a first-round grade last season when he decided to forego his senior season.
“I still wasn’t picked until the third round,” Allen said. “Which turned out to be a blessing. You just have to aware of the business.”
Boyd was also buoyed by offensive coordinator Chad Morris remaining at Clemson. Boyd’s improvement as a quarterback began with Morris’ hire by Tigers coach Dabo Swinney after the 2010 season. Boyd was the perfect triggerman for Morris’ high-flying attack. Morris, though, was the focus of several schools for head coaching openings and was interviewed by Texas Tech before Red Raiders selected Kliff Kingsbury.
Boyd said he and Morris have similar aspirations for the Tigers and hope to make those happen in 2013. It won’t be easy. Clemson opens the season against Georgia and another quarterback in Aaron Murray who passed on the NFL for a final year of college ball.
Boyd acknowledged he has plenty of room to grow. He says he needs to improve his footwork and decision making to make himself into a first-round player. He believes one more year at Clemson is the best way to make that happen.
“We’ve got a lot of things left on the schedule” to accomplish, Boyd said. “I hope to see that out.”
By coming back, Boyd has a chance to be the first to win consecutive ACC player of the year awards since Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward accomplished the feat in 1992 and 1993. Boyd will also no doubt be talked about for the game’s highest individual honor, the Heisman Trophy.
“It’s great to be mentioned in that category,” Boyd said. “But those things rarely happen if a team isn’t successful.”
Boyd hopes to increase his totals in all categories to keep the Tigers on track. When told he rushed for over 500 yards this season, Boyd answered, “Why not go for 800?”
Clemson offense certainly loses some key pieces next season. Center Dalton Freeman, who’s played more snaps than anyone in Clemson history, and two-time 1,000-yard rusher Andre Ellington both finished their eligibility.
The Tigers are also waiting to see if Boyd’s favorite target in junior receiver DeAndre Hopkins returns. Hopkins set school records this past season with 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns receiving.
Boyd said there’s lot of returning players with big-play ability to make his senior year his best yet with the Tigers. “I’m just not ready to drop this right now,” he said.
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