'You're almost like an ambassador'

CLEMSON - When Tajh Boyd was born, there was a cookie cutter image of what most quarterbacks were supposed to look like.

Big, tall statues that were -- way more often than not -- white guys.

In the 1990 season, Tajh Boyd's birth year, there were three black quarterbacks that started at least half of their teams' games -- Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham and Rodney Peete.

Twenty three years later, black quarterbacks are far more prevalent in the NFL. Through week six, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Geno Smith, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Terrelle Pryor, Michael Vick, E.J. Manuel and Josh Freeman have started at least half of this season's games for their current or former teams.

The college game mirrors the trend.

In 1989, less than a year before Boyd was born, Andre Ware became the first black quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. Charlie Ward won it three years later.

After 11 years without a black quarterback winning the Heisman, three have won the award in the last seven years -- Troy Smith, Newton and Griffin.

Come December, Braxton Miller, Brett Hundley, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater or Boyd could leave New York City's Downtown Athletic Club with the most recognizable trophy in American sports.

Boyd skin color isn't an issue. That's who he is. That's the person his parents raised him to be.

"I guess it's somewhat of an evolution," he said. "What God gives you; you try to use it to the best of your ability.

"I've always prided myself on being a player, not particularly of that color, because I don't even see myself as that. Playing quarterback is different. People view it differently, but I think you're starting to see this thing take a back seat."

But he knows just how far things have come during his lifetime.

"I think it's a big deal, because you've see guys -- pioneers that paved the way. Honestly, you don't like to think that it's an issue, but sometimes it is," Boyd said. "Just to see the expansion of it, to see college football, the NFL take strides to improve it, you've just got to thank the guys that are above you, because it's not a big deal but it is, because of the situation that we're in."

Even in the year 2013, in some walks of life, race is still an issue. Combine that with the scrutiny that comes with playing the most visible individual position in all of sports, Boyd understands the gravity of what it means to be in the position that he's in.

"Playing quarterback is a totally different monster," Boyd said. "It's a different situation. There's always this, anytime you get a quarterback of color, it's like, well, he's more of a runner…every time you get a chance you get to go out there, you just have to embrace it."

Boyd, who was raised in the Tidewater Region of Virginia, said he's never experienced any resistance because of the color of his skin and the position he plays in football.

"You hear things sometimes. You go out there and people are like, maybe he can get it done, maybe he can't get it done. I've never had anything in particularly said to me, personally, but you kind of get a sense for it sometimes," Boyd said. "You're almost like an ambassador, unofficially."

And it's something that Boyd welcomes with open arms.

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