It’s finally game week! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus “completely bulletproof” — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Was there any surprise about who inhabited this top spot? Boyd’s actually been the only player to hold the title of “top player in the ACC” since this blog’s inception back in 2011, and we fully expect things to stay that way come season’s end. Following a sophomore season that saw plenty or promise but still left critics with some fodder as well, Boyd’s junior year was about everything he (and Clemson) could’ve asked for. Improved accuracy (from 59 percent up to 67), yards per attempt (7.67 to 9.12), touchdown throws — all of that was praise-worthy, though what really set him apart was his newfound mobility. Losing 20 pounds between 2011 and 2012, Boyd turned himself into a dual-threat, adding 500 rushing yards and 10 scores to his already sterling resume. Seasons like that put you in the same conversation with the likes of most recent Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, which brings us to Boyd’s mission this season.
Previously flying under the radar, Boyd no longer has the luxury of avoiding the conference or national spotlight anymore. When you account for 46 touchdowns in one season, it’s understandable, but there’s so much more on the senior quarterback’s mind this year. In what’s likely the last rodeo in Clemson for offensive coordinator Chad Morris as well, the two understand what’s at stake. They’ve largely built their legacies on each other, and now are looking to walk away with the one team honor that’s alluded them to this point: a national championship. It’s the main reason he decided to return for his final season of eligibility, and as a result, this team’s got all the hype that comes with that. So can he deliver?
Because of how humble and focused he is on winning, I do believe so. Boyd’s pushed aside the Heisman Trophy talk over and over, but if he can go out and win football games, it’s going to continue to come up. That all starts with Georgia on Saturday night, and then from there, it’s 10 very winnable games before the Tigers face off with South Carolina. Of course, there’s plenty of room for them to slip up, but the same could be said of any other team or any other quarterback. Boyd and Clemson’s time has arrived, and whether they want the attention or not, it’s going to be on them all season. Boyd has become one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Now he just has to go out and win the trophy to validate that. And no, it’s not the Heisman.