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Clairton helps make Pitt's recruit class a success

February 7, 2013
By Joe Sager (sports@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH - The "Killer Ts" are staying home - and so is their leader.

Pitt's recruiting class got a big boost Wednesday when a trio of Clairton Bears - especially Tyler Boyd - signed their letters of intent to join the Panthers.

Boyd, one of the state's top recruits, was relieved to sign on the dotted line and continue his athletic career with Clairton teammates Titus Howard and Terrish Webb.

"This is my family. I grew up with these guys since first grade. These are the only boys I've been playing with since then," he said. "I just think I am more comfortable playing with them, staying with them through college and dominating at the next level with them."

Boyd gave a verbal commitment to the Panthers more than a month ago on national TV at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. However, he raised some eyebrows by taking official visits to West Virginia and Tennessee the past two weekends.

"It's been tough on me," Boyd said. "I've been real depressed about it not knowing where I was going since probably last week. I got it all figured out."

In the end, joining Webb and Howard at Pitt was too good to pass up for Boyd.

"It's the come-up season. They have a great class coming in," he said. "I think, with us, it'll make it even stronger and we can build something that they haven't built in a long time."

Pitt head coach Paul Chryst was pleased Boyd stuck to his verbal commitment.

"You worry about getting everyone. With Tyler, there was good dialogue. He has a good relationship with a lot of the coaches. We don't get caught up in a lot of the buzz around it, but he's earned the right to have that buzz around him," he said. "It felt good; I didn't know how that'd translate, but I always felt good about him and what we were saying to him and what he was telling us. We're excited to have him because I think he really is a special person."

Boyd, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, is being recruited as a wide receiver. At Clairton, he finished with 5,755 yards rushing and 117 touchdowns.

"Tyler, we're excited about. We think he can impact our offense a number of different ways and we're certainly looking forward to working with him," Chryst said. "When you talk to people at Clairton, they say he is one of the true leaders of that team and there's something special about him."

With Boyd leading the way, the Bears compiled a 63-game winning streak and four WPIAL and PIAA championships.

"It was hard to predict where he'd sign, but it didn't surprise me the he stayed with Pitt since his friends were going there. I think he wanted to be at Pitt, but I think he wanted to play in more of a spread offense, too," said Greg Croft, a longtime football talent evaluator and the publisher of Panther247.com, which is dedicated to coverage of Pitt athletics. "I think it'll benefit him, probably more than a spread offense, as far as preparing for next level since he'll be in the pro-style offense. I don't think it's out of the possibility that he'll see time at tailback, too."

Chryst is eager to take advantage of Boyd's versatility. He played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and returned kicks at Clairton.

"When you watch him, certainly I think he is a skilled receiver. When you watch him in the Wildcat as a ballcarrier, he is special that way. Our job for any player is to find ways to get them involved in the offense," Chryst said. "We will exhaust every way we can for our players to get involved in the offense. I think we can put a lot on his plate and find a number of different ways to get a guy like him involved."

Boyd has a chance to play immediately at receiver since the Panthers have some openings.

"They graduated three receivers; I think they are going to find a role for him," said Tony Greco, publisher of Panther Digest. "They won't just hand it to Tyler, though. But, he has a very good chance seeing field, even if not in a starting role.

"It was big to get him. I really had no clue where he was going to end up. It was looking pretty good for Pitt all along. He went to Tennessee and really liked it there. Who wouldn't, though? How on earth was he going to pull away from Webb and Howard? They are inseparable; they've been playing together since they were 5. I can't recall Pitt ever taking three (recruits) from the same school in the same class. That shows you how close these guys are and how great they really were in that run."

Howard and Webb were recruited as defensive backs and both could be impact players at Pitt despite coming from a Class A school.

"I know certain things you can't take away from 7-on-7 camps, but these guys have gone toe to toe with Gateway and Woodland Hills and bigger schools," Greco said. "Clairton actually beat some of them 7-on-7, which is pretty remarkable there."

Croft agrees.

"It was amazing what those guys did at Clairton. You have to admire what they did. Their character is very strong and they have great personalities. It's like they are going to Pitt on a mission," he said.

 
 

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