Clemson backup quarterback Tajh Boyd is no different from the rest of the Tigers’ fans who pack Memorial Stadium every Saturday in the fall -- he, too, is wondering who the starting quarterback will be this year.
Kyle Parker has yet to announce whether or not he plans to return to the football program or pursue a professional baseball career. A decision could come early next week, but no promises have been made. Meanwhile, Boyd has been on campus preparing as if the Sept. 4 season opener against North Texas will be his first career start.
“I haven’t talked to him for awhile,” Boyd said of Parker. “I think everybody is in the same situation, but we’ve got to prepare for either situation. That’s just how we’re trying to take it. Nobody knows what’s really going to happen. We’re just trying to take it like what might happen.”
What might happen is Clemson’s hopes at appearing in the ACC championship game for a second straight season could take a significant hit if Parker bolts for baseball. The offense is already missing several players who were largely responsible for last year’s Atlantic Division title. Parker set freshman records for touchdown passes (20), completions (205), and passing yards (2,526). He was also drafted in the first round by the Colorado Rockies.
Then again, Parker was only a redshirt freshman when he took his first snap last year. Who's to say Boyd wouldn't have similar success as quickly? Boyd knows some doubt his ability to take Clemson to the title game in his first year as a starter, but he's also confident in the talent surrounding him.
“I hear that a lot, but I’m just trying to do as much as I can,” Boyd said. “I think the offense is going to have a lot of weapons. The defense is going to be stacked this year, so we have a lot of stuff going on. We’re going to have a pretty good offense, so I think we’ll be fine.”
There are a few plays that were installed late in the spring that Boyd is still learning, but he’ll have plenty of time and possibly reps this summer to get more comfortable. He’s already got a good foundation because he spent all season watching Parker last year.
“Coming in as a freshman, when I redshirted, it was a little disappointing, but it turned out to be the best thing for me,” Boyd said. “I’d recommend it to everybody. I feel like it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I learned a lot, got stronger, got faster, and the spring helped me out a lot, too. The spring was a little up and down, but it was a learning experience, and now going into fall camp, I know they expect more.”
Boyd and Mike Wade have been splitting the reps in seven-on-sevens this summer, and Boyd said he has been putting in extra time and effort in the weight room, film room, and as a leader.
“I’m going to compete regardless,” Boyd said. “There’s definitely a little uncertainly going on and stuff like that, but I’m just trying to better myself for the rest of the team and whatever happens, happens. I’ve just got to continue to work.”
And Parker’s decision isn’t going to change that.