West Virginia Football: Why Tyler Boyd Should Ditch Pitt for the Mountaineers

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 31, 2013

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 25:  Stedman Bailey #3 of the West Virginia Mountaineers catches a pass in front of Antwaun Reed #22 of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers before running in for the touchdown in the first half during the 2011 Backyard Brawl on November 25, 2011 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

They say: Momma knows best.

 This is a good credo to live by, except in the case of current Pittsburgh wide receiver commit and current West Virginia recruiting target Tyler Boyd.

Boyd is a native of Clairton, Pa. (a suburb of Pittsburgh) and verbally committed to Pitt in early January.

He's a consensus 4-star prospect across all major college football recruiting sites and is rated 93 overall by 247Sports.com.

Despite choosing the Panthers over WVU and others at the Army All-American Bowl, the recruiting process didn't end for Boyd.

In fact, the process heated up.

The Mountaineers never gave up on Boyd, making an even stronger late push when the new coaching staff was in place.

Boyd visited Morgantown on Jan. 25 (via 247Sports.com), and the visit caused him to seriously reconsider his commitment. 

After visiting WVU, he told Keith Barnes of the McKeesport Daily News that he was "confused" after the visit. He also mentioned that one of the main reasons he chose Pitt was because of his two Clairton teammates that are currently Panther commits.

Now, he may be feeling like Pitt isn't the best fit for him personally.

It felt good at the time because my boys are there and I'd love to play the next four years with my bros and my family, but it ain't about that," Boyd told the McKeesport Daily News. "I'm just trying to go somewhere that best fits me.

Of course this is Boyd's decision, and he—more so than his teammates, buddies or mother—is the one who will have to live with the choice.

However, as with every recruit, he is hearing plenty of noise from the outside.

Current WVU commit Shelton Gibson has been hard at work, pulling in Boyd to make the next great Mountaineer WR duo.

He also tried to persuade Boyd by mentioning WVU's season-opener matchup in 2014 with Alabama. In the tweet, he even name-dropped 5-star Alabama running back commit and their fellow Army All-American Derrick Henry.

More recently, Gibson gave his best advice yet, tweeting at Boyd, telling him to tune out the noise and go with his heart.

Gibson didn't call anyone out in that tweet, but there's little doubt that he's aware of what's going on with Boyd's mother.

Tonya Payne, Boyd's mother, hasn't been shy about showing her vehement disapproval of West Virginia as a destination for her son.

Much of Payne's reasoning for this stance has been rather vague. She recently had this to say to Jared Shanker of ESPN:

I would always support my son, but I won’t agree with that decision...I made that perfectly, perfectly aware to the West Virginia coaches I’ve talked to.

She also brought up the question of academics to Shaker:

When I had a conversation or met a recruiter, everyone’s first question to the parent is, ‘Do you have any questions?’ I always said no because I left it for them to sell themselves to me...Immediately if everything was football and not education, it was a red flag to me. 

Now, there is little doubt that Boyd has the potential to develop into an NFL-caliber player, which WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen apparently relayed to Payne.

To her, this meant that West Virginia doesn't value the academic side of the equation.

Ms. Payne must have been simply listening to the noise she has heard living on the Panther side of the Backyard Brawl, rather than trying to find out for herself.

Information about a premier football program's academics isn't hard to find. So it would appear as though Payne hasn't done much research in regards to her son's academic future.

The NCAA's academic progress rate (APR) is the standard by which athletic departments are judged academically.

In the last three years, the APR for the West Virginia football program has actually been higher than that of Pitt.

WVU earned an APR of 953, 962 and 952 over the last three seasons.

Pitt, meanwhile, was granted APR scores of 955, 949 and 950 during that same span.

In total, West Virginia's football program has been 13 points better than Pitt academically in the eyes of the NCAA over the last three seasons.

Perhaps an even more significant comparison would be the Big East All-Academic team from 2011, WVU's last season in the Big East Conference.

That year, Pitt had a respectable 16 athletes named to the squad (via PittsburghPanthers.com).

In that same season, West Virginia had 27 student athletes named Big East academic all-stars (via WVUSports.com).

Needless to say, Payne's theory about WVU's lack of academic emphasis doesn't hold much weight.

Now onto the football field:

Boyd is sure to shine in the correct system.

Currently, Boyd is committed to Pitt, the No. 46 passing offense in the country last season. Not too bad, right?

The Panthers had a pair of receivers—Mike Shanahan and Devin Street—haul in more than 900 receiving yards.

Again, not too shabby.

On the other hand, he could attend West Virginia, home of Holgorsen's famed air raid offense. 

The same offense that finished in the top 10 in the nation in passing, eclipsing 4,000 yards through the air, an offense that boasted, without a doubt, the best wide receiver duo in the nation, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

Bailey and Austin teamed up to bring in 37 receiving touchdowns. That's nearly double all Pitt wide receiver combined, who together brought in just 21 and didn't have a single receiver with more than six touchdowns.

Not surprisingly, both Bailey and Austin are expected to be off the board relatively early in the upcoming NFL draft.

Shanahan, meanwhile, is projected to be undrafted by CBSSports.com, and Street tested NFL draft waters but decided to return for his last season (via Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).

Bailey and Austin aren't the only receivers to see some incredible success under Holgorsen. On his impressive list of pupils are numerous NFL stars and Biletnikoff Award winners.

Boyd (and Gibson) could go to West Virginia and be next in the line of sensational receivers coached by Holgorsen. That list includes Wes Welker, Michael Crabtree, Justin Blackmon and —of course his most recent duo—Austin and Bailey.

Or he could simply go with: Momma knows best.

After all Payne could simply have her son's best interests in mind, and truly believes in her heart that WVU is not the place for him.

If you'd ask me, I'd say that Boyd should listen to the smooth blues of B.B. King, who sang, "Nobody loves me but my mother, and she could be jivin' too."