Even on a play so simple, Miles Boykin thought things unfolded quickly.
Boykin faked toward the sideline and lost his defender. He then worked up the field into open space. Quarterback DeShone Kizer saw Boykin come open without another player in sight, calmly hitting the sophomore receiver for an 18-yard touchdown in the second quarter against Virginia Tech.
Reflecting on his first college touchdown, Boykin didn’t overcomplicate it.
It was just a pitch-and-catch between quarterback and open receiver.
“It happened too quick to be honest to do anything,” Boykin said. “We kinda go in tempo a little bit and the play got called. It was real quick. Celebrate with my teammates on the sideline and everything like that. It was an awesome experience, just like when (Chris) Finke scored.”
Boykin lamented that Notre Dame eventually blew the 24-7 lead against Virginia Tech on Senior Day. He would have taken a win instead, obviously. That doesn’t mean the moment wasn’t significant in his career.
“It was awesome,” Boykin said. “I think the only thing I didn’t like about it is we lost the game. But it was at home in front of the crowd, my mom and dad were there. My brother wasn’t there, unfortunately. But other than that it was awesome. Awesome experience. Hopefully more to come.”
Boykin wants to build on his first touchdown catch. He’s has appeared in all 11 games this season after taking a redshirt as a freshman. He’s up to six receptions for 81 yards in a reserve role, averaging 13.5 yards per catch.
Although Boykin took the positives from his redshirt season, getting on the field this year has helped boost development. There are things Boykin has learned in games that can only come through that experience.
“Definitely knowledge of defenses, techniques, how to run routes the right way,” Boykin said. “Things I didn’t have coming out of high school necessarily. I think that being up and actually playing now (rather) than being redshirted teaches you a lot of that stuff. Like how to adjust to certain coverages a defense might run, where holes are and where to be to get the ball.”
Boykin put his improved route running on display with his touchdown catch. Now the hope is to continue adding to his arsenal against opposing defensive backs.
After USC, Boykin will shift into offseason mode with a bowl game either unlikely or altogether out of the picture. He’s already started to think about some of the areas he’d like to continue refining for next season.
“I think the same thing as most people,” Boykin said. “I want to be more polished in my route running. Obviously, get bigger and stronger. Things like that. Being able to work on even more of a knowledge of the offense to where I can learn how to play other positions and I could be put anywhere and know what I’m doing.”
Diversifying his knowledge of the playbook could help Boykin expand his role.
Fellow receivers Equanimeous St. Brown, C.J. Sanders and Kevin Stephenson are all back next season. Torii Hunter has another year of eligibility, but it’s not clear if he’ll use it. Tight end Alizé Jones, more receiver than blocker, should return from suspension.
Fortunately, Boykin now has another piece of positive feedback in that touchdown.
“You just have to build on it,” he said. “Build on catches, more catches and hopefully more catches turn into touchdowns and just being more poised out there.”