Clairton's Boyd sticks with Pitt
Only hours before a scheduled news conference during which Clairton senior Tyler Boyd was expected to sign a letter of intent to play at Pitt, Bears teammate Titus Howard saw a message on his phone.
It was Boyd. It was late, and he wanted to talk.
So Howard walked the block down Reed Street to Third Street to Boyd's house. After a few minutes, they called another Clairton teammate, Terrish Webb, and the conversation intensified.
"We just started to talk about these schools and said we need to make a decision," Howard said.
With Howard and Webb firmly committed to Pitt, the conversation turned to Boyd's decision.
"We were putting it all out there," Webb said.
Although Boyd, a four-star recruit at wide receiver, verbally committed to Pitt more than a month ago, he had been considering West Virginia and Tennessee since taking official visits over the past few weeks.
"We were sitting around all night talking and trying to weigh the pros and cons of each school and really didn't have a decision until after midnight," Boyd said. "It just came down to playing together. We couldn't pass that up."
Boyd stuck to his verbal commitment to the Panthers, which he made during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January, by signing a letter of intent Wednesday to join Howard and Webb at Pitt.
"Pitt just outweighed every school," Boyd said.
Boyd gets to compete with the guys he has played with since he was 6 years old, who helped Clairton to a state-record 63 consecutive wins, including four straight WPIAL and state championships.
"I am very happy to get this over and done with," said Boyd's mother, Tonya Payne. "I am even more happy with his decision. Staying together is really important to all of them."
It almost didn't happen.
When he gave Pitt a verbal commitment, Boyd said he planned to take visits to Michigan State and Tennessee. He later canceled and appeared to be set on Pitt.
But Boyd surprised many by making official visits to West Virginia and Tennessee on back-to-back weekends at the end of January.
"They were telling me everything I wanted to hear. I am so glad it is over," Boyd said. "Thinking back to that Army All-American game, I probably should've waited it out and not committed. I didn't think it was going to be so hard and have so much pressure. I was losing my mind and didn't know what to do."
Boyd's mother said the past two weeks have been difficult on her son, something Webb also noticed.
"You could tell that it was stressing him," Webb said. "That's why I didn't pressure him into doing anything. He was going to make the decision that was best for him."
Boyd can help Panthers coach Paul Chryst's team immediately and in many ways. Boyd said the Pitt coaches plan to use him in a variety of packages, including possibly as a Wildcat quarterback.
"I think he is one, from what he has shown on tape and talking with him and his understanding of football," Chryst said. "I think we can put a lot on his plate, certainly find a number of different ways to get a guy like him involved.
"I think he is a special person and a guy who will help this team. Because of that you wanted him here. Until you got that fax ... He was a guy you pictured he could help your team in a lot of ways."
Boyd (6-foot-2, 175 pounds) was forced to play running back the past two years out of necessity and put together two stellar seasons.
He rushed for 2,584 yards, caught 12 passes for 218 yards and scored 51 touchdowns this past season. He was named the Tribune-Review and Pennsylvania Sportswriters Class A player of the year.
Boyd finished his career with 5,755 yards rushing, good for fifth place on the WPIAL all-time list. He also set a WPIAL record with 117 career touchdowns.
"I am happy with my decision," Boyd said, "and I am glad I made it."