IRVING, Texas -- Chris Boyd, who once expected to join fellow Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews as an early-round NFL draft pick, feels fortunate to have the opportunity to compete for a roster spot as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys.
“I really appreciate it,” Boyd said. “It’s a blessing to play the game I love again. I’m just really thankful for the coaching staff here and the personnel department to reach out to me and give me the opportunity.”
Boyd was dismissed from the Vanderbilt football team due to his involvement in a June rape case that rocked the program, when he was accused of helping four teammates cover up the crime after the fact. In September, Boyd entered a conditional guilty plea to a misdemeanor accessory charge, getting 11 months and 29 days of probation and agreeing to testify against the men accused of the sexual assault charges.
Boyd, who continued his education at Vanderbilt and worked five days a week with a pair of personal trainers during football season, got grilled by NFL teams during interviews at the scouting combine. After further investigation, the Cowboys came away convinced that Boyd was worthy of being given a chance to play in the NFL.
“We got our arms around what his role is and how he perceived what his role is and how he feels about it now, and we felt comfortable that he was OK to bring in here and be a part of our football team,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “He seems like a good person who got caught up in a bad situation. He probably wasn’t perfect in handling it, but I think he learned a lot from it and we feel comfortable with what kind of guy he is.”
Boyd said he was honest with teams about the situation and attempted to clear up “misconceptions.” He declined to discuss the case in detail while being interviewed during the Cowboys’ rookie minicamp, but Boyd said he pleaded guilty to the reduced charge because he believed he would be allowed to play again for Vanderbilt if he did so.
From a pure football perspective, Boyd is an intriguing prospect. He’s 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and was clocked in the high 4.5s and low 4.6s in the 40-yard dash at his pro day, which was held off campus hours after the Vanderbilt pro day from which he was banned. He caught 81 passes for 1,247 yards and 13 touchdowns in two seasons at Vanderbilt and felt like he was coming into his own last summer before his dismissal.
“I’m just planning on making the most of this opportunity that I have here,” Boyd said. “I’m here to work hard. I’m excited about this opportunity. You won’t regret it. I’m going to play this game hard every day. I’m going to come out here with the intention to get better and earn a spot.”