Star QB Boyd commits to Clemson
QB Tajh Boyd committed to Clemson after backing out from WVU and Tennessee
Quarterback Tyrik Rollison will play for Auburn and new coach Gene Chizik
Stanford got a commitment from top RB prospect Tyler Gaffney
Before Tajh Boyd went under the knife, he wanted to be sure where he was headed. So Tuesday, less than 24 hours before a scheduled surgery to repair the torn ACL he played on for most of the season, the Hampton, Va., quarterback stood at Phoebus High 15 minutes before the start of his press conference and made his choice.
Boyd, who previously committed to West Virginia and Tennessee, announced that he would sign with Clemson next week. He picked the Tigers over Ohio State and Oregon. "It's been a crazy recruiting trip," Boyd said Tuesday. "I'm glad to have it behind me."
Boyd, the MVP of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, originally committed to West Virginia, but he reopened his recruitment in October. Less than a month later, he committed to Tennessee. Boyd said he was told by Vols athletic director Mike Hamilton that Phillip Fulmer would remain Tennessee's coach. "He ended up firing Phillip Fulmer like two or three days after I committed," Boyd said.
New Vols coach Lane Kiffin said he didn't think Boyd would fit Tennessee's pro-style offense. That stung Boyd, who considers himself more of a drop-back quarterback than a dual-threat. As a junior, Boyd threw for 2,059 yards and 25 touchdowns. Playing on with a torn left ACL this season, Boyd led Phoebus to a state title. Boyd said he considered sitting out the remainder of the season after he injured his knee, but he just couldn't. "I'm not really a selfish person," he said. "I owed it to my teammates."
So Boyd would play games and wear sweatpants the next day because he couldn't fit anything else over his swollen knee. Some Sundays, he had to use crutches to go to church. But Boyd doesn't regret the decision. He said he'll need four to six months to rehab the knee, but he hopes to be ready when the Tigers start practice in August.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is searching for a replacement for two-year starter Cullen Harper. Rising sophomore Willy Korn had surgery on his throwing shoulder last month, and rising sophomore Kyle Parker will split time this spring with Clemson's baseball team. Boyd had hoped to compete during spring practice -- he's already graduated from high school -- but that won't happen.
Swinney already has mentioned that he plans to add some spread elements to the offense. That could bode well for Boyd, who looked excellent running the spread at the All-American Bowl. Splitting time with two other quarterbacks, Boyd completed 7 of 9 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns. Still, Boyd cautioned Tuesday against pigeonholing him as strictly a spread quarterback.
"It was cool being able to see what I can do in that type of offense," Boyd said. "But Clemson also runs a lot of pro-style, and I can do that, too. A lot of quarterbacks get stereotyped as spread-only."
Rollison To Auburn
For all the grousing by media geniuses like me about Auburn's hiring of Coach Gene Chizik, the criticism hasn't kept top recruits from hearing the sales pitch of the former Iowa State coach and his staff. Tuesday, the Tigers landed a big one when Sulphur Springs, Tex., quarterback Tyrik Rollison committed. Rollison, who threw for 4,728 yards and 56 touchdowns and rushed for 1,094 yards as a senior, chose Auburn after making an official visit this past weekend. He also was considering Kansas State, but first-year Auburn running backs coach Curtis Luper -- late of Oklahoma State -- led the charge to bring Rollison to the SEC.
Rollison gives first-year Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn another option for his no-huddle, hurry-up scheme. Neither Chris Todd nor Kodi Burns earned a firm grip on the starting job last season, and freshman Barrett Trotter redshirted.
Gaffney To Stanford
Because of his school's high academic standards, Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh has a smaller pool of players from which to draw, but that hasn't stopped Harbaugh and his staff from facing off with some elite schools for players. Monday, that tenacity paid off again.
San Diego running back Tyler Gaffney committed to the Cardinal, choosing Stanford over USC and Notre Dame. Gaffney, California's Mr. Football, scored five touchdowns and rushed for 329 yards in Cathedral Catholic's California Division II state title win against Stockton St. Mary's. For the season, Gaffney rushed for 2,866 yards and 56 touchdowns.
At Stanford, Gaffney will join Upland, Calif., quarterback Josh Nunes, who also received interest from Florida, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and San Diego tight end Levine Toilolo, who chose Stanford despite an offer from Florida. The Cardinal also have a commitment from Pawling, N.Y., linebacker Shayne Skov, ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 45 overall prospect.
Kennard To USC
Devon Kennard loved USC's football program for much of his childhood. In the end, that may have forced Trojans coaches to work harder to secure a commitment from the nation's top-ranked defensive end.
"I really was even. I always liked USC growing up," Kennard told Rivals.com on Tuesday after choosing USC over Cal and Texas at an assembly at Desert Vista High in Phoenix. "If anything, I tried to make sure that's not why I picked them. I needed to pick the best school for me all around, and not just because I liked them when I was younger. They had to prove to me that they were the best school for me."
Kennard's commitment gives the Trojans pledges from three of Rivals.com's top 10 players and nine of the top 100 - at least for now. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict (Rivals No. 9) and receiver Randall Carroll (Rivals No. 39) have committed but may still look elsewhere. Kennard, however, will not. That said, he had only kind words for the two programs that missed out on him.
"I had three really, really good schools I was looking at," Kennard said. "I feel like I could have closed my eyes and picked any one and been successful."
Another Announcement Set
Adam Hall wasn't ready to pick a school during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl telecast. The Tucson, Ariz., athlete will be ready Friday. Hall has scheduled a press conference for 1 p.m. ET to announce his commitment to either Arizona, Cal or Oregon.
Hall expressed frustration after the All-American Bowl because he felt he was being pressured to commit during the broadcast. Instead of committing, he proposed a compromise. He would eliminate two schools from his final five. So when he appeared behind a table full of hats, he removed the Alabama and USC hats, leaving the hats of the three schools he'll choose from this week.