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Gorman: A mother's view of the recruiting process

| Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Clairton's Tyler Boyd carries against Dunmore's Mike Kolcharno during the second quarter of the PIAA Class A state championship game Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 in Hershey.

Tonya Payne thought the recruiting process was supposed to be enjoyable, instead of the nightmare it has quickly become.

Payne is a single mother of two boys whose youngest son, Clairton's Tyler Boyd, is Pitt's marquee WPIAL recruit in the Class of 2013.

At least, until Boyd took an official visit to West Virginia this weekend. That caused some commotion for the Panthers and their fans.

While Payne defended Boyd's decision to visit the Mountaineers just three weeks after picking Pitt on national television at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, she did so with a caveat.

“This decision affects my child's life for the next four to five years,” Payne said. “Before he went down, he told me, ‘I'm committed to Pitt.' He reassured me he wouldn't change his mind.”

Payne said Boyd was under peer pressure to use his four remaining official visits, and has flirted with the idea of taking trips to Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State before changing his mind each time.

“Tyler has been on nine unofficial visits to other places,” Payne said. “To me, there's only one difference between official and unofficial visits: You get to spend the night and you're wined and dined. You get the same information. You meet the same people.”

Payne also said Boyd “probably would have picked Penn State, if not for the (NCAA) sanctions.”

West Virginia was once thought to be the leader for Boyd, the 2012 Tribune-Review Player of the Year and a two-time pick as the state's top player in Class A.

But Payne said she is “uncomfortable” with how the Mountaineers have handled her son's recruitment, mostly because no one on their coaching staff ever spoke to her until Friday.

“I've spoken to two coaches in the last two days, and that's the first time I spoke with anyone on the staff in at least a year-and-a-half?” she said. “If you're recruiting my son as heavily as you are, with all the other schools who have recruited him — I've gotten something from somebody at some point; to not get anything, there's something wrong.

“They're apologizing. They're saying, ‘A mistake was made.' When did you recognize it? Just now, a week before Signing Day?”

West Virginia made a late push for Boyd after replacing assistant Steve Dunlap with Tony Gibson, who has a history recruiting Western Pennsylvania prospects.

Payne said that Pitt's coaching change also helped, as she didn't trust Todd Graham but has built a relationship with Paul Chryst's staff.

“People will say his mom only wants him to go to Pitt so he's close to home. Of course. I've never missed a game since he was 5 years old,” said Payne, whose older son, Brian Boyd, suffered a career-ending knee injury.

“But I have a whole process. For him, it's been all about the football aspect. Mine is about the education, because at any time he could get hurt and never play football again in his life.”

Enjoyable?

“Honestly, I can't wait for Signing Day to get here.”

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