Tajh Eager to Meet Kiffin

His eyes unerringly fixated on the prize, Hampton, Va., quarterback Tahj Boyd has barely given Tennessee's search for a head football coach a second glance but after the horn sounds on Saturday's state championship game in wind-blown Blacksburg he'll give it his personal attention.

Tajh Boyd's competitive nature and will to win are two of the characteristics that make him a five-star signal caller, and they are the traits that have made it easy for him to focus on the task at hand instead of an event outside his sphere of influence.

"Last year we lost in the state semifinals," he explained. "We won the championship my sophomore year and we want to win it again my senior year. We play Dinwiddie in the finals. They're 13-0 and we're 14-0. We're playing on Virginia Tech's field. It's supposed to be 47 degrees and 24 mph winds. The other championship we played at Todd Stadium in Newport News. Last year was at UVA we were all excited trying to get down there but we lost the game before it and missed out."

That makes Saturday's contest all the more significant, and Boyd is quick point out that the key to his Phoebus High School's chances lie with its defense.

"Our defense has come to play every game," he said. "We only got scored on by five different teams this year out of 14 games, everybody else has been shut out. I've never seen nothing like it. We didn't expect the defense to be so good. We play triple-A Division 5 that's the highest classification in the state and the defense has done its job."

Because of the tremendous job the defense has done the Pheobus offense's job hasn't been to score points as much as to get a two-touchdown lead and control the ball, the clock and field position. As a result of that along with some very one-sided games and a knee injury, Boyd didn't get the snaps or compile the stats he did as a sophomore and junior.

"I've thrown for 1,400, 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns," he said. "I sat out two games with a knee injury. It slowed me down a little because I wasn't able to do everything I'm used to doing as far as my running ability. I'll have to get it stronger before I go to college. It will get back on track eventually."

Despite the injury Boyd managed to avoid losses and pick up some key yards and first downs.

"I never really ran a whole lot this year," he said. "I think I have about 250 yards and three touchdowns."

The only statistics Boyd appears to concern himself with is in the W column. Maybe that's because he learned to love playing football before he became a quarterback.

"I started off playing like right guard and defensive end," he said of his formative years in football. "I played a lot of positions growing up and I could always throw the ball. Then my dad starting working with me and I started playing that position because before that I played fullback, running back, tight end, cornerback, a whole lot of different positions. My dad worked wth me a lot on my quarterback game. When I went to high school they sharpened things up for me and stuff like that."

Boyd credits his fatther with providing the support and inspiration that makes football such a passion for him today.

"He's from Florida and played wide receiver in high school," Boyd said. "He's really into football. That's how me and my brother are about sports and things like that. My mom and dad are big supporters if mine. When I first started to play if I'd come down with an injury my mom would try to run on the field and stuff like that. It's cool now. She's just very protective of me. I'm glad I had her support."

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound, QB, who is ranked No. 4 at his position nationally by Scout.com, doesn't need much protection nowadays. He has a big league arm, 4.57 speed and strength like an offensive lineman.

"I kind of liked Troy Smith growing up," he said of the former Ohio State signal caller. "Some people try to draw comparisons between us. We wear the same number and he's a big guy. I've tried to emulate some of his play at quarterback. I bench like 335 and I squat over 400. I kind of take pride in the weight room and in my training. A lot of times they think the quarterbacks is like the weakling or something. That's why I lift with the linemen. I try to keep up with them."

That dovetails into a prerequisite Lane Kiffin identified in his press conference Monday when he was introduced as UT's 21st head football coach. Kiffin said his offense would be physical and what better place to start than at quarterback. That should make Boyd a good fit for UT's new offense.

"It's kind of sad to see Coach Fulmer go," he said. "He's such a good person and a great guy in general. Some people who haven't really met him probably think different, but he's a good guy. Lane Kiffin is a little bit different, he's a younger guy and seems real energetic. I haven't really got a chance to talk to him yet. I'm looking forward to talking to him to see how he is in person.

That should happen soon and Tennessee will be well represented in Blacksburg with assistant Latrell Scott who is auditioning for a job on Kiffin's staff atter serving as receivers coach this season. Tennessee's lone paid assistant David Reaves, who was hired from South Caroina where he was quarterback coach and recruiting coordinator, will also be on hand to watch Boyd's game and meet with the family.

In a season when timing went awry, execution went haywire and quarterbacks were harrassed nonstop it's ironic that some of the best recruiting news in a long time concerns a quarterback who's totally in sync with Tennessee's football future.

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