Earlier this month, former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd publicly announced he would be returning to the Tigers as an assistant coach for Dabo Swinney. While specifics about Boyd’s role have not yet been revealed, it is expected he will coach on the offensive side of the ball and work as an analyst or in player development.
Boyd, 30, is not the only former Clemson player serving on the coaching staff. Former Tigers star C.J. Spiller is coaching the running backs after a one-season stint as a Clemson graduate intern in 2020.
At this past week’s ACC Football Kickoff, Swinney was asked why it was important for him to bring former players like Boyd in as coaches.
“I mean, Clemson is Clemson family,” Swinney said. “We’ve talked about that from day one when we built our program. I love being able to give a former player opportunity where it’s warranted. It’s been cool to see so many guys pursue coaching. I got another one right over here that’s going to be — he’s like Pete Rose this year, player coach. But (James) Skalski is going to be a coach whenever he’s done. I love being able to nurture that. I love giving former players opportunities.”
After playing sparingly as a freshman, Boyd won the starter’s job in 2011 and was among the country’s best quarterbacks over the next three seasons. He was a two-time, first-team, All-ACC selection and a first-team All-American and the ACC Player of the Year in 2012. He finished his four-year Clemson career with 11,094 passing yards and 107 touchdown passes in addition to 1,165 yards and 26 touchdowns as a runner.
“I think there’s nobody more invested in your program than those who have put their blood, sweat and tears into it,” Swinney said. “So all the way from Tony Elliott who I coached, who was a captain for me. I think we’ve got 22 former players that are either full-time coaches, coordinators, P.A.W. Journey, strength and conditioning, player development, analysts, whatever it may be. I think their perspective is priceless. They’ve lived it. They’ve done it.”
The New York Jets selected Boyd in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft but the former Clemson star never saw any game action during a three-year professional career.
“Most of them, most all of them, played for me,” Swinney added. “I’m not here if it wasn’t for the player. So for me to be able to give a guy an opportunity to played for me is a big deal.
“I’m also here because Gene Stallings gave me the opportunity. He could have given that opportunity to a lot of people, but he gave the opportunity to me because I had played for him for three years. I had been a GA for him for three years. Then, boom, he hired me full-time after that.
“Without that opportunity to be that graduate assistant, that opportunity to learn under him, come in and work, I’m probably not standing here for sure.
To me, I love giving a former player the opportunity and, again, the perspective they bring to your team.”
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Boyd was among the most highly recruited quarterbacks in the nation when Swinney and Clemson secured his signature. The Hampton, Virginia, native was designated as a five-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite and was the nation’s No. 3 ranked pro-style quarterback.