WR Boyd hoping to emerge for new-look Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst has found plenty of answers halfway

through training camp.

Tom Savage is the starting quarterback. James Conner looks like

a starter at running back and even the job of kicker has been

effectively decided with the presence of freshman Chris

Blewitt.

But one question – a pretty big one – remains.

Who will Savage throw the ball too besides senior Devin

Street?

Enter Tyler Boyd, arguably the gem of Chryst’s 2013 recruiting

class. The former Clairton High star has taken a major step forward

during camp after a standout prep career that included winning

three state titles.

Boyd has emerged from a crowded field after Ronald Jones, who

compiled 24 receptions over the last two years, was suspended for

the entire 2013 season for a violation of team rules. Jones’

suspension left Ed Tinker as the only receiver besides Street with

any semblance of experience. In other words, the door was left wide

open for Boyd to climb up the depth chart.

It’s an opportunity Boyd has clutched with both hands. After

entering camp as a question mark, he is the leading candidate to

start next to Street when Pitt begins ACC play on Labor Day night

against No. 11 Florida State.

”Every time they say first team, I’m in there,” Boyd said.

”I’m not trying to say I’m the first starter yet, I’m just getting

reps with the first so I’m just going to keep going and get better

and better.”

Boyd’s biggest concern entering camp was dealing with the more

arduous practice schedule. He has been seasoned for the grind,

though, with some guidance from Street, who has real aspirations of

being selected in the 2014 NFL Draft.

”I’m trying to see everything (Street’s) doing,” Boyd said.

”I’m watching his steps, his reads, his blocking schemes.”

From the first day of camp, Street, who had 975 receiving yards

and five scores last year, expressed a firm belief in Boyd’s

abilities.

”I think he’s definitely going to contribute for us,” Street

said.

Street is 28 receptions away from becoming the program’s

all-time leader, and has grown into a reliable source of

information, on and off the field for the whole team.

“If he keeps leading me,” Boyd said, ”I’m going to keep

following.”

Chryst has noticed. With an open mind since Day 1, the

second-year coach has not been afraid to take chances with the

Panthers. Pitt went 6-7 in Chryst’s first season, though the

Panthers won four of their last seven games.

”He’s continuing to earn the right to get more reps,” Chryst

said of Boyd. ”I love the progress that he’s been making. I think

he’s done a great job of learning what to do.

”Our focus has been on finding out if a guy can give you

consistent production.”

So far, so good. Boyd’s done enough to continue to work with the

starters and earn the trust of his quarterback.

In fact, Savage and Boyd have connected for multiple big plays

during practice. During one recent scrimmage, Boyd turned a pair of

long-yardage situations into big gains.

”I’m not surprised that he’s acclimated quickly,” Chryst said.

”But I certainly appreciate it.”