Ex-Pitt WR Boyd flashes speed for NFL scouts

Jerry DiPaola
| Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 12:54 p.m.

Tyler Boyd wasn't surprised.

“Exactly what I expected,” he said. “I knew I had a 4.4 in me.”

Boyd was timed not at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard sprint Wednesday at Pitt's Pro Day, but close enough to likely improve his standing in the eyes of NFL scouts and coaches looking for wide receivers in the draft April 28-30. Several NFL stopwatches timed him between 4.47-4.52 seconds.

That's an improvement of about a tenth of a second from the disappointing 4.58 he ran at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month.

Boyd, who rewrote Pitt records for receptions and yards during his three-year career, has been working out in Anaheim, Calif., since Jan. 1, leaving only for a week at the combine and another week to visit his mom in Clairton.

He said he didn't like his time at the combine, but he forced himself to relax Wednesday on his home turf in Pitt's indoor practice facility, surrounded by teammates.

“I knew I could (improve) it here,” said Boyd, projected as a second-round draft choice and ranked the fifth wide receiver by CBSSports.com.

His secret was simple: “Be yourself. Don't be anxious. All that anxiety is built up in you because you are nervous to run,” he said, citing his mindset at the combine. “That's what really helped me. I was more relaxed this time.”

Still, the emotions were real for more than three hours when eight Pitt players worked in the weight room, attempting to bench-press 225 pounds as many times as possible, before running, jumping and performing position-specific drills on the field. Boyd did none of the drills — he just ran and caught passes from former Pitt quarterback Trey Anderson — after doing them at the combine.

In the weight room, the noise was almost unbearable as Pitt's current players encouraged the lifters. Running back James Conner, only two days after his eighth chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma, was among the most enthusiastic.

“With those guys yelling and screaming, I put up a couple more reps,” said 190-pound cornerback Lafayette Pitts, pleased with his 12.

Pitts, who set a Pitt record with 51 starts, displayed exceptional athleticism, running in the high 4.4s and jumping 10 feet, 2 inches in the long jump and 33½ inches in the high jump.

“I wanted to do a 4.3, but I'm cool with a 4.4,” he said. “It was just fun for me. No nerves, really. It's in God's hands now.”

Pitts, who is rated the 60th cornerback by CBSSports.com, said he has a visit scheduled with the Browns.

“I'm sure guys will start calling after today,” he said. “Hoping.”

Defensive tackle K.K. Mosley-Smith, who was Pitts' teammate at Woodland Hills, was the weight room star, lifting the bar 27 times off his chest. He also long-jumped 8-11 at 295 pounds.

Outside linebacker Nicholas Grigsby (220 pounds) lifted 21 times, later high-jumping 36½ inches and long-jumping 10-4.

J.P. Holtz, who played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January, is attracting attention as a tight end — his natural position — and fullback. He ran a 4.76 Wednesday, has met recently with the Bengals and Bears, and he plans a visit to the Browns.

“I'm willing to do whatever I need to do to make a team,” said Holtz, rated the 23rd tight end. “I've been working for this moment my whole life.”

Other Pitt players who worked out were center Artie Rowell (28th), defensive tackle Darryl Render (47th) and long snapper David Murphy.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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