His college records mean nothing now.
The only thing that matters to Tajh Boyd is what he does from here on out.
The transition to the NFL is difficult for any football player. But especially for someone like Boyd, who put up monster numbers as Clemson’s quarterback. He’s the ACC leader in total touchdowns (133) and he’s also the first QB in ACC history with 30-plus touchdown passes in three seasons.
But Boyd – who was drafted 213th overall by the Jets – knows he’s no longer the big man on campus. And that’s why he’s determined to pad his resume some more.
“It starts right back,” he said after Day 2 of rookie minicamp. “I like to think that I'm a deep thinker sometimes, so I'm sitting in my room and going through the playbook and it really just hit me that, ‘You're just a small fish in a big pond again.’
“…There's going to be ups and downs and you'll get frustrated and a little confused sometimes, but that's just part of the process. After a while, you start to emerge again as one of the bigger fish. That's just the whole process that I'm looking forward to. You've got to make sure that you tell yourself to calm down and relax, and it's going to work itself out.”
His mind has been running a million miles a minute as he and the rest of the rookies try to absorb all the information that’s being thrown at them.
“You sit down and you put countless hours of studying and looking at it on paper and on film and then when you get it out there you have to make sure that it translates.
“You want to get off so fast, you want to do so well, that you kind of get a brain freeze out there sometimes. So it’s good to get a chance to see live reps cause I think it makes all the difference.”
Boyd said the coaching staff likened his situation to that of Geno Smith, who came from a West Virginia offense where he rarely was under center. “The footwork is a little bit different,” Boyd said of adjusting to the Marty Mornhinweg’s West Coast system. “They're really critical of your footwork being this way on this certain play or that way. So, it's all about repetition and it's all about learning. Hopefully I get it sooner rather than later and I can make the most out of it.”
Shortly after he was drafted in the sixth round, Rex Ryan hinted that Boyd – his son’s QB at Clemson – was his pick. So does Boyd feel pressure to prove Ryan right?
“That's what it's all about,” he said. “It's all about the relationship, you two being one in the same. It was like that with my college coach and I expect it to be the same here. I expect to be coached hard every practice, in the film room, on the field, and it's a respect factor that comes. It's not necessarily anything that's given with that. It's all about earning that, whether it's the work you're putting in, those guys seeing that you're committed and you're passionate about it. It's a little bit of everything in that sense.”
But he readily admitted he’s relieved that his head coach is in his corner.
“Oh, for sure, because this is a different business,” he said. “College was fun and you were on scholarship and they can't necessarily cut you. Now, you're in a professional sport where it's all about producing and you can get cut at any given time. I'm just out here to try to make the most out of it, and just enjoy it. Not too many people get this opportunity, but I definitely want to make the most of mine. I feel like I can play at this level and I want to make the most of any opportunity I have.”
Boyd – who set 57 Clemson and ACC records, while finishing with 11,904 yards passing and 107 touchdowns – said he has no regrets about returning to college for his senior season.
“I had a lot of the guys asking me here at rookie camp while we were eating if I regret coming back to school or anything of that nature. In the draft, you'll find things. That's just how it is. You'll find anything whether it's, oh, he had a bunch of guys he could throw to. In my eyes, everybody had to have somebody to throw to. My guy just happened to be Sammy Watkins. You take it for what it's worth,” said Boyd, who also ran for 26 touchdowns at Clemson.
“I don't regret the decision at all. I feel like I'm in the right position, I feel like I'm with the right team. …You can tell how much John Idzik cares about the Jets, and how much Rex Ryan cares about the Jets. We want to play for a guy like that, and a program like that.”
Asked why he chose to return to school, Boyd said: “I wanted to finish. I wanted to go out there and see what else was on the table. Ultimately, you play this sport now because you love it and because you get paid. For me, it was all about having no regrets when I left school. I wanted to see if could go out there and get a national championship, and I wanted to go out there to see if I could win the Heisman.
“None of those things happened, but I most definitely enjoyed my experience. My stats are actually better last year than my junior year, so I don't know what happened in that sense, but it was an enjoyable process for me.”