The Commodores had long been an afterthought in the Southeastern Conference and, to some, his commitment to play for a team that played in just four bowl games in their 118-year history would be filled with frustration and losses.
But his three years on the Nashville campus have been just the opposite.
As an individual, the 6-foot-5 receiver made an immediate impact when he stepped on the field as a redshirt freshman in 2011, leading the Commodores in touchdowns and finishing second on the team with 473 yards receiving. 2012 has been even better, as a primary option for quarterback Jordan Rodgers, Boyd has hauled in 46 balls for 756 yards — including a career high 110 yards performance against the University of Georgia in September.
As a team, the his play has sparked uncharted prosperity for his Vanderbilt team. Going 6-6 last year and 8-4 this season, the Commodores qualified for back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history and posted a winning record (5-3) in SEC play this fall for the first time since 1982.
“It’s been a tremendous experience to be a part of this team,” said Boyd, a 2010 graduate of Roswell High School that chose Vanderbilt over offers from Georgia Tech, Illinois, and many other Division-I programs. “People always told me I should go somewhere where football was a bigger deal than Vanderbilt, but I believed in this school, believed in this team and my three years here have been amazing.”
After redshirting as a freshman in 2010, Boyd made his name known at Vanderbilt in his first career game against Elon, catching a pair of touchdown passes in the Commodores season opener. As a reserve for much of the season he was used mainly as a red zone target before eventually working his way into the starting lineup at the Liberty Bowl against Cincinnati — a 31-24 loss highlighted by Boyd’s team-leading eighth touchdown grab of his freshman season.
As a sophomore Boyd has started all 12 games — catching at least one pass in each — for a Vanderbilt team that has a chance to win nine games for the first time since 1915.
“The fact that we have turned things around here is amazing and it’s been really exciting to be a part of. But we also still have bigger things to accomplish this season and in the future,” said Boyd, who will take the field for the final time as a sophomore on Dec. 31 against North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl.
“The sky is the limit for us.”