ShareThis Page
Pitt trying to keep star playmaker Boyd fresh for the season opener |

Pitt trying to keep star playmaker Boyd fresh for the season opener

| Monday, August 18, 2014 9:10 p.m

He stood on the sideline, helmet in hand, looking like all he wanted to do was run onto the field and play with the big kids.

But Tyler Boyd is one of the big kids. Maybe the biggest in terms of importance to Pitt’s hopes for a winning season.

So, when the Pitt football team started colliding with each other Saturday in a tackle-to-the-ground scrimmage, Boyd wasn’t invited to the party for fear of a possible injury.

“It’s not a favoritism thing,” Boyd said.

He’s correct, of course. Coach Paul Chryst wants everyone to earn a starting job, but Boyd did that last year when he set Pitt freshmen records previously held by Larry Fitzgerald for receptions (82) and yards (1,174).

Remember all the optimism generated when Pitt won its bowl game last year?

That doesn’t happen without Boyd’s 54-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Considering those accomplishments, it’s no wonder Chryst treats Boyd like your mother handled the fine china in the dining room. He also gave him a day off earlier this month.

Chryst wants to keep Boyd healthy for the 12-game regular season that starts Aug. 30 against Delaware.

Chryst was reluctant to talk about it — coaches don’t often feel the need to explain themselves to reporters — but he joked, “I forgot we had him,” before admitting Saturday was a day of rest.

“I just felt like he wanted to keep me fresh so I can be more than ready for week 1,” Boyd said.

That’s true, even though the wide receiver position appears to the strongest and deepest on the team. Former tight end Manasseh Garner, who sports an NFL-like body at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, lines up on the other side. Seven others — described as a “melting pot” by wide receivers coach Greg Lewis — are competing for playing time, although none have created significant separation from the pack.

Coaches have high expectations for freshman Adonis Jennings, who has been slowed by a groin injury. Jennings worked without a problem Monday, and he spent considerable time after practice getting personal instruction from volunteer assistant Mike Shanahan.

Lewis said the intensity of the college game has not been too much for Jennings to grasp.

“He is strong-minded,” Lewis said.

“I just think it’s new. Anytime you are involved in something new, it’s a learning curve. He’s hitting it head-on.”

Boyd has assumed leadership of the group, getting others together, correcting mistakes, answering questions. Meanwhile, he works hard at his own game, Lewis said.

“He is taking it to heart and trying to own the small details of playing the position,” Lewis said.

“I’m not perfect,” Boyd said. “I need to improve on everything I do.”

Lewis said he has seen Boyd getting better, but he admits, “It’s hard to make big improvement from where he was. He was pretty good last year.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

Categories: Pitt
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.