Before there was Deshaun Watson, and Trevor Lawrence, and DJ Uiagalelei, and Cade Klubnik, and (maybe) Arch Manning, there was Tajh Boyd.
A 5-star recruit out of Hampton, Va., Boyd was the cornerstone of Dabo Swinney's first class as the full-time Clemson head coach and served as proof-of-concept that the wide receivers coach-turned-interim head coach could really get it done as the Tigers' full-time head man.
Dabo wouldn't win his first national title until three years after Boyd's departure, but that 2016 crown and everything that came after doesn't happen without his 2011 ACC championship, his 2012 ACC player of the year award, his First Team All-America nod and all the rest.
And now he's set to return to his alma mater in an off-the-field capacity.
"It'll fit somewhere between (an) analyst (and a) player development role," Boyd told WACH-TV in Columbia, SC. "I've been through so much with this game: loved it, hated it and everything else in-between. The fact that I get to give that back; help guys navigate through those experiences and get to relearn the game in a different light is really exciting for me going forward."
A sixth-round draft pick, Boyd toggled between the NFL, CFL and other professional leagues from his 2013 matriculation from Clemson until 2016. He's worked in real estate since 2017 while training players on the side.
Boyd said in the interview he'd turned down an offer to come back before, wanting to make something of himself outside of football first. That box now checked in his mind, Boyd said now was the time to return to football.
"I'm just gonna relearn the game. Maybe I'll start in the (offensive) line room and relearn protections and then I'll jump in with the receivers and tight ends and try to get a holistic version of what it looks like to coach on the other side of it, which means preparation and long hours but I'm excited about it."
He'll join a staff that features another founding member of the modern Clemson dynasty. CJ Spiller, a College Football Hall of Fame running back and Boyd's teammate for the 2009 season, is now the Tigers' running backs coach.
Spiller joined the staff in 2020 as an unpaid intern before he was promoted in February. “He is one of the greatest ambassadors that we’ve had for our program for a long time and now for him to be able to come back and be able to sow seeds into these young men and teach all the things he’s learned throughout his career, there’s not a guy on this staff that’s more committed and more ALL IN for Clemson than C.J. Spiller, that’s for sure," Swinney said at the time. "To have C.J. out on the road recruiting and have him leading these young men day in and day out is something I’m really, really excited about.”
Clemson's quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter is himself a former Tigers QB, the starter in 1998 and '99 before serving as a GA in 2004-05 and then becoming Dabo's quarterbacks coach in 2014.
Streeter will have that job as long as he wants it but in the event he no longer does, the Tigers' next quarterbacks coach may have just joined the staff.