Stars are not born in spring.
Guy Holliday does not flinch when identifying the annual six-week-long camp as just a chapter of a longer conversation, a necessary sliver to the growth process for players to prove that when the lights inside a stadium shine, they will live up to the hype bestowed upon them.
“It all starts over in the summer,” Utah’s wide receivers coach says.
And fall is where the separation portion of that longer conversation rears its head.
So where does that leave Bronson Boyd at the tail-end of spring? Media types and fans alike were eager to see how the redshirt freshman wideout established himself as a featured part of the spread offense attack, especially on the heels of departures like Darren Carrington II (graduation) and Raelon Singleton (transfer).
Nothing satiates a fan base like a a new name, let alone one hungry for more offensive playmaking ability. In steps Boyd, a 6-foot, 187-pound receiver who arrived in Salt Lake City last May, a former Texas Tech player for all of a couple of weeks before being dismissed from the program last January.
Details never were given, but unconfirmed rumors percolated throughout the depths of the Internet. The former four-star recruit from Arlington, Texas, received a call from Holliday within a few days, informing him he wanted Boyd to take a flight out to Utah and visit the campus. Holliday, who recruits heavily in the Lone Star State, had his eye on Boyd in high school.
“I just left,” Boyd said when asked about what transpired at Texas Tech. “Didn’t like the program. It wasn’t a good fit for me, so I just ended up leaving.”
Asked to clarify if it was his decision to leave or if he was dismissed, Boyd said, “It just wasn’t the right fit for me and my family, so I just decided to come here.”
Said Holliday: “I don’t think it’s a second chance. He made a decision to leave, and it was a mutual parting of ways is the best way to look at it. I don’t think he felt he was a fit there. He chose to come here.”
Boyd redshirted a year ago, taking it all in, studying the ins-and-outs of the position, both up close and from afar. Despite being unable to play in 2017, he impressed the Utah coaching staff in fall camp last year, ensuring that he would be someone to account for instead of just another name and jersey number when this spring rolled around.
“It was really tough, just on the sidelines, watching everybody else make plays,” he said. “It’s a learning process. I’m glad I went through it. It was a humbling process. Honestly I can say I became a better person, a better teammate, as well.”
In various practices and scrimmages this spring, he’s made the sort of catches — over-the-shoulder snags and one-footed toe-taps along the sideline in tight coverage — that proved why he was a sought-after recruit in Texas. Reality is, however, Boyd hasn’t played that much, Holliday said. The former high school basketball star’s first year of high school football was his junior season. His missed his senior year after undergoing surgery to repair a labrum tear.
Boyd says he needs to be more fluid heading into the summer.
“I’m a little ridged right now,” he said. “I need to be more smooth. That’ll come with time. It’ll all come back.”
Holliday wants to see more, too.
“He’s got to learn to control some things, learn the nuances of the position having not played it much,” he said. “It’s going to be how much he puts into it.”
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Boyd has the abilities to be a go-to receiver.
“He’s got the talent, you bet,” Whittingham said. “He’s got the tools, he’s got the right mentality, he’s got a great work ethic. He’s just got to keep progressing and keep polishing things up. There’s a lot of fine detail to the receiver position.”
Detail that Boyd believes he can perfect, and therefore become a reliable target for quarterback Tyler Huntley. In Troy Taylor’s offense, Boyd said, receivers are asked to learn to run a full route tree, meaning each wideout isn’t pigeonholed to one position on the outside.
“A lot of schools just run slants and gos,” he said, “so I feel like it could give me a lot of NFL tape to see what I could run. I can run every route in the route tree, so that’s why I like this offense.”
Reporter Lynn Worthy contributed to this story.
RED WHITE GAME
When • 11 a.m. Saturday
Where • Rice-Eccles Stadium
Game format • Quarters will be 10 minutes long with a standard clock in the first half and a running clock in the second half. Halftime is eight minutes. Teams get two timeouts per half. There will be no punt returns or kickoff returns. In place of kickoffs, play will start at the 35-yard line while punts will be marked at the spot of the catch. If a team scores and still is down by more than 10 points, it will retain possession of the ball.