Former Clemson QB Tajh Boyd was back in school on Friday. The ex-Tiger played the role of Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett ahead of the Fiesta Bowl.
When it comes to winning a game in the College Football Playoff and advancing to a second consecutive national championship contest, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is pulling out all of the stops.
As his Tigers get ready for a Fiesta Bowl date with Ohio State on New Year’s Eve, Swinney and his staff understand the challenge that lies ahead. While Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes offense has not been sharp in the last few contests—close wins over Michigan State and Michigan—the Power Spread is still one of the best in football when everything’s clicking. And OSU signal-caller J.T. Barrett could look Heisman Trophy-esque when he is on his “A” game.
Perhaps that’s why Swinney had former Tigers star Tajh Boyd practicing at scout team quarterback on Friday, playing the role of the electric Barrett, per Gene Sapakoff of the Charleston Post and Courier.
This is not unusual, of course. Alabama head coach Nick Saban had former quarterback Blake Sims put on the pads again to lead the scout team ahead of its game against then-unbeaten Texas A&M this past fall. Sims was on the roster when quarterback Trevor Knight was with Oklahoma and had a great game against the Alabama defense up in the Sugar Bowl a few years ago. So Sims played the part of Knight in practice leading up to the tilt with the Aggies. Former Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson has also made an appearance on the scout team in Tuscaloosa. He played the role of LSU star Leonard Fournette in preparation for the team’s 10-0 win over the Tigers in November.
Swinney likely pulled the same move with Boyd this week because of his ability to extend plays with his feet, which would help Brent Venables and the Tigers defense work on scrambling drills in practice. Boyd was a central piece of Clemson’s rise onto the national stage under Swinney, who is looking to win his first national title as a head coach after falling to Alabama in an exciting title game last season.
Appearances and involvement by past stars in prep and practice is not too uncommon for major programs in college football. Remember that Marshawn Lynch made an appearance on the Cal scout team this past summer.
The NCAA allows former players to participate in practices as long as the time is limited and not announced publicly ahead of time.