Practice Tour: Jhay Boyd

GASTONIA, N.C. --- To take full advantage of the rare talents of wide receiver Jhay Boyd, head coach Mike Briggs installed a spread offense at Ashbrook High School this offseason.

"Obviously Jhay is going to be an integral part of what we're trying to do – we're trying to spread the ball," Briggs said. "We're going to move him around a lot – we got him at a ‘Z,' we got him in at the slot, we got him at an ‘X.' We're going to move him around a lot to get the ball to him. We also have three-four other very good receivers that are very fast so we can spread it around."

Traditionally, Ashbrook has run a very successful run-oriented offense.

"Usually, we've had some big offensive linemen that could push people around," Briggs said. "We don't have that. We have a smaller, faster type bunch and that's what we have to rely on. Of course you want to put the ball in your playmakers' hands."

Last season, in Ashbrook's former offense, Boyd, a 6-foot-2, 184-pounder, caught 47 passes for 1,151 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those numbers are expected to drastically improve this fall.

"I feel like I'm going to be on display even more," Boyd said. "I know last year, teams could key in on me – double-team, triple-team. This year, Coach Briggs can isolate me [and] move me around so I can break down those double-teams [and] be matched up with linebackers.

"This offense really uses all of our athletes. So they can't really double-team or concentrate on one person. If they concentrate on me, we'll kill them with somebody else."

While four reliable receivers will line up in most formations, Boyd is the keystone of this offensive system.

"We're going to screen it to him, we're going to curl it to him, we're going to throw posts, we're going to throw corners – he's a major part [of this offense]," Briggs said. "Hopefully he'll draw a lot of attention."

The hope is that this spread attack, highlighted by Boyd, will make Ashbrook into a contender. The Green Wave is five years removed from its last state championship.

"I'm just trying to focus on having a big year and making it to [the state championship]," Boyd said. "I feel like [the new offense is] going to open up a lot of things and help us go farther than what we did last year. I feel like we could have an undefeated season this year. We have a good quarterback, the defense is pretty fast. I feel like we're going to do it this year."


Privately, Boyd has cut his list of ten favorite schools in half. He'll officially announce his final five this Saturday at the Gaston County FCA Football Jamboree.

"The five that I do have, I like everything that they have to offer," Boyd said.

After unofficially visiting Chapel Hill in June, Boyd said UNC was a lock to make the cut to five. He reaffirmed that sentiment by revealing UNC will be one of the schools he names Saturday.

"I like UNC a lot so they're definitely at the top of my list," Boyd said. "…First of all, I'm a North Carolina kid so going to a state university would be great. I want to major in communications and they have a great communications program – Stuart Scott of ESPN went there. Let's say I get hurt in football, just having a Carolina degree I could get a job making six figures.

"UNC's team is really building with the class of '08 they just recruited. And this class with already 13 commitments and it's a lot of in-state kids going there. I feel like they're coming on strong and they can really compete for a national championship – especially with Butch Davis and all the money they're putting into the stadium."

The candidates for the remaining four spots include Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Missouri, NC State, Oregon, and Southern Cal.

After announcing his final five, Boyd will focus on scheduling official visits with each finalist. Between his final official visit and Signing Day, Boyd plans to make a verbal commitment.

"I don't think I have a favorite," Boyd said. "…All five are equal."

Boyd returned to UNC Saturday where he was given an opportunity to watch the Tar Heels' first scrimmage of the preseason.

"I feel like Carolina is going to be really good [this season]," Boyd said. "… I feel like most likely they'll probably go to the ACC Championship [Game] probably against Clemson. But UNC is really good. You have to watch out for them this year."

The scrimmage provided Boyd a chance to really evaluate UNC's wide receiver situation.

"I pay attention to the wide receivers, how my position coaches are coaching, how many wide receivers they have out there at a time – I know Carolina runs a pro-style offense and that's the kind of system I want to be in," Boyd said.

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