April 24, 2008

Boyd Takes Quiet Approach To NFL Draft

Cory Boyd has a busy weekend ahead.

But his plans don't include watching the NFL Draft.

Though he expects to be selected in the middle rounds, Boyd won't be sitting around Saturday and Sunday waiting for the phone to ring.

Instead, he'll be spending cherished time with his family in Orange, N.J. when NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell starts calling out names of drafted players Saturday at 3 p.m.

"I'm not going to be watching the draft. I want to keep my head level," Boyd said when reached by phone Wednesday. "I haven't really thought about where I might be drafted. It really doesn't matter to me. I've completely lost the thrill. I'm just going to get up, eat breakfast, relax with my family and play a little ball with my godson. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself."

Boyd's siblings and a large group of friends will gather together at his family's home in Orange, N.J. to watch the proceedings.

Boyd is rated by Rivals.com as the No. 21 running back in the country. ESPN's Scout, Inc. judges him as the 17th best running back. Running back is considered one of the deepest positions in this year's draft.

"All these teams know all the information about me. They know what I can do," Boyd said. "But there are a lot of running backs out there. Realistically, I really don't see myself going on the first day. I'm just going to sit back, enjoy the process and not get stressed out about it. Sunday, I think, will be crunch time. A little bit of nervousness might kick in when the third round starts."

The consensus No. 1 running back available is Darren McFadden of Arkansas. He tied the SEC's single game rushing record against USC with 321 yards in early November. Talent-wise, Boyd believes there's not much difference between McFadden and him.

"Darren McFadden is a great player and I take nothing away from him," Boyd said. "He was in a run-happy offense. I was in a pass-happy offense. There's really no comparison there. We're pretty much the same height and same weight. He's shown good explosiveness and speed. I try to do the same. He's a good player. I'm a good player."

Some NFL draft experts have labeled Boyd as a sleeper in this year's draft and 'undervalued' if he ends up as a mid-round selection.

Boyd, though, is unimpressed.

"I really pay no attention to that," Boyd said. "That's really irrelevant to me. It's all talk until you put on the pads and then you can see what kind of player someone is. I'm just looking at it like I'm going into a situation where I'm going to end up with something more than I had, anyways. To say I'm a steal, it doesn't really matter when you get a chance. That's all I'm looking for. I just want to compete for a job."

Boyd said he's had few discussions with NFL clubs since a Detroit Lions scout worked him out extensively at USC's Pro Timing Day March 26,

"(The Lions) definitely did show some interest at the Pro Day," Boyd said. "Hopefully, it will stay that way. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I did well enough in the interviews to allow me to get drafted a little higher."

One team that has expressed interest lately in Boyd is the Charlotte-based Carolina Panthers.

"The Carolina Panthers have definitely showed a lot of interest," Boyd said. "They definitely have a need for a running back. But I'm not sure how high of a priority it is. But it would be wonderful to stay in the Carolinas."

Boyd spoke recently with Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, a graduate of USC. Houston currently has two former Gamecock players on its roster - defensive backs Dunta Robinson and Fred Bennett.

"I just introduced myself to him and told him that he had a nice organization going and he had a nice stadium," Boyd said. "We practiced there for the East-West Shrine Game. I told him to put in a good word for me. He said he had heard a lot about me and that it would be good to have another USC alumnus playing for the Texans. We just chatted up like we were buddies.

"Playing for the Texans would be wonderful because I wouldn't be alone out there. I would definitely have guys who I played with in college to help me learn the ropes about of the NFL."

Being a native of New Jersey, would Boyd prefer to be drafted by either the New York Jets or Giants? Not exactly.

He still longs to move his family out of Orange, N.J. and away from the cold weather and gloomy environment.

"It would be great if any team picked me, but my family definitely wants to get away from New Jersey," Boyd said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how things unfold. My grandmother definitely wants to go to a warmer climate. She's tired of the cold and all the bad things that have happened up there. She just needs to get away and she wants a new start. She believes coming to the South will be a good thing. We have plenty of options we want to explore."

Following the draft, Boys will immediately prepare for the rookie mini-camps most NFL clubs conduct in early May.

"The process is really going to pick up fairly quickly," Boyd said. "I have to be prepared mentally and physically."

After rushing for a career high 903 yards last season, Boyd caught the eye of NFL scouts after a solid performance in the East-West Shrine Bowl, followed by a 4.51 clocking in the 40-yard dash at the league combine in February.

Following the NFL Combine, SI.com listed Boyd as one of the combine's top seven "risers."

After rushing for 541 yards in 2003-2004, Boyd persevered through a season long suspension in 2005 before finally emerging in 2006 ready to take over the role as the Gamecocks' top running back.

Over his final two seasons (2006-2007), Boyd turned into one of USC's most versatile offensive threats by rushing for 1,726 yards and catching 71 passes out of the backfield, while gaining a reputation as a hard-nosed runner that gave maximum effort on every play.

By the time his college football career was finished, Boyd had rushed for 2,267 yards in his four seasons (2003-2004, 2006-2007) to rank 10th on the Gamecocks' all-time career rushing list.

He scored 28 touchdowns, tying him with Bennett for third place on the all-time list. In addition, his 117 career receptions puts him seventh on USC's all-time receiving list.

Boyd is one of just two former Gamecocks to claim a spot in the Top 10 of both the rushing and receiving lists. Brandon Bennett (1991-1994), who is second in rushing and eighth in receptions, is the other.

Boyd and Bennett are also the only two USC players to log 2,000 yards rushing and haul in 100 or more receptions.

Boyd graduated from USC in December with a degree in hotel, restaurant and tourism management and spent the next four months preparing for the NFL Draft at various workout facilities in Cleveland and Miami.

"It's been a long journey," Boyd said. "Coming down south helped me realize there's a different life outside of Orange, N.J. There are good people in this world who aren't out to get you. Once I found my foundation, it helped me realize that life gets better with time. I thank the Carolina fans for that."

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