The recruiting process has been stressful for Tyler Boyd, especially making his final decision over the past few days.
"It's been real stressful to me in the inside of my mind," Boyd said. "I wasn't answering anybody's calls: no recruiters, no sports writers, nobody. I didn't even talk to my mom for a day because she was making me feel real stressed about it. I'm glad I really sat down with each person I have faith in: my mother, my coaches, my teammates. I made the best decision."
The four-star Clairton (Pa.) receiver made that decision known when each school vying for Boyd's services - Pitt, West Virginia and Tennessee - called him Tuesday night.
"I didn't answer any calls but Pitt," he said. "I had to let them know I'm coming, I'm staying. The other two teams are going to catch the memo later on, but basically, this is right. This is the right decision for me and my family."
Boyd announced Wednesday he'd be signing with Pitt at a signing day news conference at Clairton High School. He declared his decision to remain a Panther along with teammates Titus Howard and Terrish Webb. Being able to play with Howard and Webb at the next level was a huge part of his decision.
"This is my family," he said. "I've grown up with these guys since first grade. These are the only boys I've been playing with since then. I think I'm just more comfortable staying with them through college and dominating the next level with them."
Boyd originally committed to Pitt on Jan. 5 during the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio, Texas. However, he made it clear he wanted to visit other schools before signing day. He took official visits to West Virginia and Tennessee over the last two weekends.
He kept open communication with the Pitt coaching staff about making those visit, trying to maintain his loyalty. Even though the visits made the decision harder for Boyd, playing with his Clairton teammates in college was too good to pass up.
"I was pretty much stable throughout the whole process until I took these visits," he said. "I started to get confused because all these schools were telling me everything I wanted to hear really. I had to sit down with my family and these boys (Webb and Howard) and talk about the pros and cons. This was the strongest pro about the whole situation, so I had to ride it out with my brothers."
The 2013 receiver said he made his decision about a day or two after returning from Tennessee. Boyd then informed his recruiter and position coach Bobby Engram of his decision during that Tuesday night phone call. The Clairton athlete's relationship with his recruiter was a big reason for sticking with the Panthers, specifically because of Engram's loyalty.
"He's a great guy," Boyd said. "Every time I go to the games, I hang out with his son. He looks up to me a little bit, and he's real cool. I just feel like we're a big family, and I just feel so comfortable there. West Virginia and Tennessee, I felt a little bit comfortable there, but Pitt, I just felt way more comfortable....
"Coach Engram's been loyal to me throughout the whole process. He had a couple jobs to go to the NFL. He turned them down. The Wisconsin job, he turned that down too. That showed me real loyalty. He was a real person, not a traitor or someone who'll just talk and tell you what you want to hear. I just knew he was the right guy for him to be coaching me."
Boyd added: "I ignored all the calls (Tuesday night) except his because he's been loyal to me from day one. He called me every week, and I would talk to him. Our relationship is great, and I couldn't leave him like that."
The four-star receiver also saw that loyal quality throughout the entire Pitt coaching staff including head coach Paul Chryst.
"For my whole decision, I had to be loyal to the Pitt coaches," he said, "because they stayed loyal to me. I'm not going to be unloyal to them. I wanted to show my whole character."
Boyd, 6'2" 185, is the top skill position prospect in Pitt's 2013 recruiting class, according to the Rivals.com rankings. The four-star receiver is the No. 103 overall prospect nationally, the No. 12 receiver in the country and the sixth-best player in Pennsylvania.
He led Clairton to 63 straight wins including four consecutive PIAA Class A state championships. During his high school career, Boyd rushed for 5,755 yards and scored 117 touchdowns. He was also named the Class A player of the year in 2011 and 2012 by the Pennsylvania Sportswriters.
Now that his decision is made, the 2013 receiver is excited about the future of Pitt. He believes the team is on the rise and has the potential to compete with anyone nationally. He could even contribute to the Pitt offense as a freshman.
"This is their come-up season," he said. "They're definitely rising. They've got a great class coming in. I think, with us, it'll make it even stronger. We can help them build something that they didn't build for a long time...
"They (the Pitt coaches) came to my house that Thursday before I went for the visit (to Tennessee)," he said. "They sat me down, showed me plays, drawing up plays that they're going to run me in. I'm going to get carries from the backfield, Wildcat, everything I'm doing at Clairton. Why would I pass that up?"
Boyd feels like the three Clairton players joining Pitt is the start of something big, not just for the university but for the city of Pittsburgh and the surrounding area as well.
Seeing local players like Rushel Shell and J.P. Holtz contribute early, he feels a sense of hometown pride and is hoping that others feel the same way.
"All the great players from the WPIAL are starting to help Pitt and make it strong," Boyd said. "Everybody's starting to realize what we're trying to do. So I think with Shell there and us coming, we're going to get the next best WPIAL players from the 2014 class. We're just trying to build this city."
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