Even as a freshman, Tyler Boyd came to Pitt's training camp confident in his abilities.
After Clairton High School's four consecutive state titles and its astounding, 63-1 record over his career there, he had plenty of reason to be.
The first two weeks of training camp have solidified Boyd's belief that he is ready to play wide receiver at the college level. Thursday, he estimated his confidence was at about a six out of 10 when he arrived at Pitt, and now, he said, it's a seven or eight.
That confidence has helped Boyd earn more playing time. Two weeks into his college career, he already has moved up to getting regular rotations with the first team. In fact, there's a good chance Boyd will be on the field with senior receiver Devin Street for the first offensive play of Pitt's opener Sept. 2 against Florida State.
"I'm not trying to say that I'm a starter yet, I'm just getting the reps with the first team," Boyd said. "I'm just going to try to keep getting better and better, so that when my name is called in the first game I can be on the first team out there."
Pitt coach Paul Chryst has emphasized that he doesn't coach at camp with a depth chart in mind. At receiver, as many as five or six players will get snaps with the first unit. That said, it's getting hard to ignore Boyd's work.
"He's continually earning the right to just keep getting more reps," Chryst said. "Right now, we don't have to worry so much about ones and twos, but I love the progress that he's been making."
Local fans already are familiar with Boyd's work while he led Clairton to those four PIAA titles. Last season, he had 2,567 yards rushing, another 218 receiving and a total of 51 total touchdowns for the Bears. At Clairton, he lined up all over, even taking frequent snaps in the wildcat quarterback position.
Chryst likely won't add the wildcat to his run-based offense anytime soon, but the Panthers are looking at different ways to get Boyd the ball, be on a screen pass or an end-around. He has also has gotten looks as a punt returner.
So far, Boyd has been able to take it all in.
"I think he's made the play when the play's been there," offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said. "He's played fast, his understanding is what you always worry about, and it's really coming around. He shows a great reception area to catch the ball and the speed that he plays at, he has a chance to do a really nice job for us this year."
Boyd credited a good part of his acclimation to Street, who could end his career this year as Pitt's all-time leading receiver. Even when the two are doing something like sharing a meal, Street schools Boyd on routes and coverages.
"If I didn't have anybody shadowing me, I think I would've been way underconfident with myself and what I'm doing," Boyd said. "I've got a great player and a great role model like him."
Boyd already is looking forward to going against ACC defenses this season with Street.
"Me coming on the offense I think will open it up because [Street is] going to get more triple- and double-teams," Boyd said. "People are going to think of me as just a freshman.
"That's where I come in."mobilehome - pittsports
Sam Werner: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @SWernerPG. First Published August 16, 2013 4:00 AM