Pitt WR Boyd laying low for now
Tonya Payne had much to say when her son Tyler Boyd was choosing a college, but the decision to leave Pitt a year early and enter this year's NFL Draft was all Boyd's.
“He was a teenager then,” Payne said Saturday. “He's a young man now. We discussed things, but I more or less allowed him to make his decision as a young man.”
Boyd, 21, has joined a list of Pitt standout skill players who left early for the NFL, including Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Bryant, Dion Lewis, LeSean McCoy, Darrelle Revis, Jon Baldwin and Greg Lee. All except Lewis and Lee were drafted in the first or second round.
When he is drafted this spring — early analysis says it will occur in the second round — Boyd will become the first Clairton graduate to reach the NFL since cornerback Daven Holly, who was drafted in the seventh round in 2005 by the San Francisco 49ers.
“They are underestimating him,” Clairton coach Wayne Wade said of Boyd. “He will show them at the (NFL) Combine.”
The next step for Boyd is choosing an agent and then intensive training for the combine scheduled for Feb. 23-29 in Indianapolis. Payne said Boyd will leave town to concentrate on conditioning, but she said she did not know where that would occur.
Payne, who said her phone “blew up” Friday when Boyd announced he was leaving Pitt, said her son will not be available for immediate comment.
“He's kind of on the lay-low right now,” she said. “I have to send him a special message in order for him to respond to me. He's relaxing, spending time with his daughter (2-year-old Taylen).”
The next step for Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi is to find a way to replace Boyd in its passing game. That won't be easy.
Boyd set school records for career receptions (254) and receiving yardage (3,361) in only three seasons. His 91 catches this season were more than double the total of Pitt's next four wide receivers: Dontez Ford, Zach Challingsworth, Elijah Zeise and Quadree Henderson.
All four return next season. Ford, who will be a senior, led Pitt at 19.4 yards per catch. The Panthers also may lean heavily on junior-college transfer Juwann Winfree, a former Maryland wide receiver.
Payne said Narduzzi was “very supportive with whatever Tyler decided to do” and did not try to coax her son to stay.
“He definitely gave a lot of good feedback to Tyler from some NFL teams,” she said. “He offered the option of what he could still accomplish if he stayed, but I wouldn't say he was trying to recruit him to stay or push him or force him.”