CLEMSON - Only on Pro Timing Day, the biggest interview of Tajh Boyd's career, could 60 sets of eyeballs on the practice field bring a brighter glare than 80,000 in Death Valley.
And yeah, this time it was personal. Clemson's former All-American quarterback is a little tired of hearing about his free-falling draft stock, so he did what he could to impress scouts from all 32 teams Thursday.
"I just wanted to come out here and answer every question. I'm proud of the way I throw the football," Boyd said. "I feel I can make any throw on the field, and I wanted to come out here and showcase that."
Boyd was on display for 83 throws of varying challenges - 64 in the open field, 19 in the red zone. All but one were secured in the hands of his target, pleasing the only critic or supporter who's watched Boyd his whole life.
"I think it was pretty impressive," said Tim Boyd, Tajh's father. "That's the best I've seen him look in a long time."
After a poor showing at the Senior Bowl on Jan. 25 in Mobile, Ala., and unable to stand out from a cluttered, star-studded group of 19 quarterbacks at the NFL Scouting Combine in late February in Indianapolis, this was Boyd's time to shine at home base.
Call it The Avengers, Clemson edition: Boyd assembled wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant, running back Roderick McDowell and tight end Brandon Ford to flank him for positional drills.
"This group, we probably had the smoothest, prettiest Pro Day," Watkins said. "We came out here, caught all the balls, and of course, Tajh Boyd, our leader, he led today. We put on a show."
The quintet trained Monday and Tuesday with Boyd's personal quarterbacks coach, Florida-based Ken Mastrole, orchestrating the performance.
"Tajh sent a mass message out," McDowell said, "and everybody was like, let's go. He's still our leader, man. When Tajh wants to work out, we're all in the same boat."
Ford last played for Clemson in 2012, but a hamstring injury got him released from the Patriots in 2013, giving him an opportunity to work out on Pro Day and complete the Tigers' familiar arsenal of playmakers.
"I think it went great. We all have a lot of chemistry," Ford said. "I've been playing with Tajh for three years. I remember him being the third-string quarterback and me being the third-string wide receiver, so we all just came out and showed what we can do and everything looked good."
The only pass touching the turf at Clemson's indoor facility was a go-long route, when Boyd rocked back and fired the ball downfield to a sprinting Bryant.
"Misjudged it. I was staring at it the whole time, reached my hand out and it just went straight through my hands," Bryant said. "One dropped pass out of a lot.
"We had good chemistry all week practicing and going through the script. Like we do on Saturdays, we just came out here and executed."
Mastrole, whose pupil completed all 19 passes in the end zone (but only a few high-degree-of-difficulty fade routes), said he received positive feedback from the fellows in team-issued jackets with notepads closely observing.
"He slung it today. I think he threw it the best I've seen him throw it all year," Mastrole said of Boyd. "I think he answered questions on accuracy. He showed he can play in a 3-5 (step-drop), traditional, pro-style passing offense.
"With that ability and how he can throw it from multiple angles, I think he's going to be a heck of a pro, I really do."
Mixed in among the scouts were Jets head coach Rex Ryan and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, plus general managers from the Rams, Bills, Lions and Jets. St. Louis, Buffalo and Detroit each own top-10 picks and could be eyeing Watkins at the top of the draft.
Many of the 32 NFL teams could be considering a mid- to late-round quarterback. Boyd couldn't help but feel the heat, even on a chilly day.
"Honestly, it's a little nerve-wracking. Because as much it's just playing football, you know, it's a job application as well," Boyd said. "So I'm over here, some guys felt like it was cold; I felt like it was 140 degrees in here. I'm taking deep breaths, hyperventilating."
"But ultimately, you've got to go throw the football, compete and have fun. That's what I wanted to do."
Boyd bristled at the notion his college accolades were a product of Clemson's up-tempo attack - "Some guys are (a system quarterback.) I feel like I'm not even close to that," he said - and with two months remaining before the 2014 NFL Draft, only individual workouts and patience greet him on this side of Pro Day.
"(Other) people are more worried about my draft status than I am," Boyd said. "Whether it's in the first or the seventh (rounds), I feel like I'm going to play for a while. As long as I have an opportunity, that's all I ask for."
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