Waiting in the wings

CLEMSON - Freshman Tajh Boyd will compete for the starting quarterback spot this spring. And he'll be doing it without the knee brace.

Given this season to red-shirt and rehab, Boyd hasn't gone through the typical season that every other Clemson red-shirt has. He's travelled to all the away games, sat in quarterback meetings and trained with the power hour group as he's being groomed to one day take over the reigns as the Tigers' quarterback.

"He's going to get a lot of work (this coming spring). He'll have every opportunity to prove that he can help this football team win," said offensive coordinator Billy Napier in a recent conversation with CUTigers.

Though Kyle Parker started all 13 games, threw for 2,385 yards, 19 touchdowns and has completed 55 percent of his passes, it's uncertain whether he'll even be back for a sophomore season since he could opt to play professional baseball.

And even if Parker returns to Clemson, Boyd will compete with him for the starting nod.

Coach Dabo Swinney said everyone competes in the spring.

"There are no guarantees at any position. You've got to compete," he said. "Kyle has had a really good freshman year. That's good. No body is going to care about that next year. Every year you have to earn your job. It doesn't matter who you are. You have to earn your position, especially when you're a young player."

Given that Boyd has had three times the amount of work this season that Parker had at this time last season, the future looks bright for Clemson at quarterback, whether it's Parker, Boyd or a combination of the two.

When he arrived on campus late last spring, Boyd was 18 percent body fat at 225 pounds. Now he's down to 10 percent and 220.

In the same high school class as Southern California's Matt Barkley, LSU's Russell Shepard and Michigan's Tate Forcier, Boyd worried less and less about sitting out this season.

"When they did play, it wasn't like they had spectacular seasons," Boyd said. "I felt like this benefits me the most. I got to work with coach (Napier) and get the speed of everything. Even on the scout team it was a great thing for me."

For the most part of Clemson's first 13 games, Boyd was the scout team quarterback. His performance there has even drawn high praise from defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. In addition, Boyd's presence in the meetings and mental repetitions during practice have allowed him to have a little knowledge of the playbook.

"I'm just studying the playbook. Hopefully by spring, I'll be full go," he said.

Boyd was ranked by Scout.com as the No. 4 quarterback in the nation.

As a junior, he completed 131-of-189 passes for 2059 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also rushed for 500 yards and seven touchdowns while being named District and Regional Player of the Year.

He finished his senior year with a perfect 15-0 record and a state championship while passing for over 1,500 yards and 23 touchdowns. And keep in mind most of those numbers were posted after he suffered a knee injury that required him to have surgery this past February.

Now back to full strength, Boyd's impact in spring practice next March will be one of the major storylines to watch during the offseason.

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