Clemson’s Boyd, South Carolina’s Shaw play NFL draft waiting game

jbell@thesunnews.comApril 13, 2014 

As the 2014 NFL draft looms closer, life is about to get very different for former South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw and former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd.

“It’s been a long process, I’m really enjoying it though,” said Shaw who, like Boyd, was at Coastal Grand Mall signing autographs and greeting fans in Myrtle Beach on Sunday. “I’m taking advantage of the opportunities that have been given to me, training hard back in Columbia, and now I’m just kind of playing the waiting game.”

Shaw is projected to be a sixth- or seventh-round selection by CBSSports.com, while Boyd – who at one time was considered a likely first-round pick – is projected by the website to go in the seventh round.

Despite falling on many draft boards after returning to school for his senior season, Boyd is optimistic.

“The process for the draft is going really [well],” Boyd said. “We’re less than a month away right now so I’m just trying to make sure I enjoy myself and embrace the moments that I have. Obviously you only get one opportunity to do this, one experience at it, so I’m just trying to make the most out of it right now.”

Both prospects expect to land on teams via the draft; the only question is when their phone will ring.

“[Boyd] has had several meetings. He had three meetings last week, along with several phone calls,” said Andy Sink, Boyd’s agent. “I think just about everybody in the league has called to get his number because they call you on draft day. I don’t know if he has spoken with every team in the league, but there are several that are very interested.”

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, for one, has shown interest in the quarterback.

“Rex Ryan attended our signing yesterday in Clemson and talked to Tajh and Sammy [Watkins],” Sink said. “He told me in private the day before at an event that he wouldn’t be able to trade up and get Sammy, but he was very interested in getting Tajh. Yesterday when he asked him for his number, he said ‘be expecting a call from me in the draft.’ He’s very high on Tajh.”

Curtis Conway, an ESPN analyst is also apparently high on Boyd, comparing him to Super Bowl MVP Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.

“I think that’s a good comparison,” Sink said. “Tajh is a little bit taller, but they’re the same type of player as far as their mobility, [and knowing] when to get out of bounds, when to get down, and knowing how to stay healthy [until] the next play. They both have light arms, very accurate arms, so yeah I think that’s a fair comparison.”

While flattered, Boyd wants to make his own footprint.

“Obviously it’s a big compliment, but Russell does what he does and he is who he is,” Boyd added. “Ultimately I just want to go and create an identity. What you’ve done in college doesn’t really matter leading up to this point. Obviously I want to go out and play early, I want to compete early, and that’s what I’m going to try to do for whatever team that drafts me.

“It’s a humbling comment, but you just have to keep on working hard.”

Shaw, meanwhile, has been in contact with the Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars, according to NFL.com. He has turned heads with his passing touch and mobility, according to the NFL combine website.

He ran a 4.66 40-yard dash, third-fastest among quarterbacks.

For now, Shaw is trying to stay in shape while playing the waiting game.

“It’s a lot of training,” Shaw said. “I have a bunch of private workouts coming up, and I do some marketing on the weekends. I love the opportunity to meet the fans. It’s a really exciting opportunity and basically I’m just playing the waiting game until the draft right now.”

USC coach Steve Spurrier has said Shaw is perhaps the best quarterback in the Gamecocks’ history, a compliment that Shaw considers a high honor from a coach who is known to be tough on those who man the position.

It’s something Shaw believes has helped him get to the brink of being drafted.

“Well, it means a lot, it means a great deal to me,” Shaw said. “The way he coaches his quarterbacks, he’s very critical, very hard on them, demands the very best, and for him to say that, it really means a great deal to me.”

Boyd’s draft resume’ includes school records for passing yards with 11,904 and passing touchdowns with 107 at Clemson.

He’s ready to get started.

“Honestly I’m thinking that I’m going to go in the first two days,” Boyd said. “After that, rookie camp starts [the] next week so I just want to go in and be a competitor, be a great teammate, and just go out there and perform like I know I’m capable of. It’ll be fun.”

For both though, the waiting game is perhaps the hardest part of all.

“It’s more of an anxious feeling because you’re going into an unknown situation,” Boyd said. “For the past five years everything has been mapped out as far as school, schedule, things of that nature and now you’re heading to an arena where it’s just totally brand new. You’re walking into a huddle, these guys are grown men; you’re just this new kid on the block. It’s almost like being a freshman all over again. I’m looking forward to it, though, for sure.”

Contact JOSH BELL at 444-1702.

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