“I will be declaring for the 2016 NFL Draft,” Boyd wrote. “But as I step out and begin my professional journey, I will always savor the moments we had.”
“As we both know, no matter what, I will always be the kid from Clairton that dreamed of catching that winning touchdown. Thank you for raising me Pittsburgh.”
Boyd will leave Pitt as the Panthers' all-time leader in receptions (254) and receiving yards (3,361). He caught 91 passes this year for 926 yards and six touchdowns.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper rated Boyd as the fifth-best available receiver in the draft, and most mock drafts have him going in the second or third round.
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement he had four “detailed phone conversations” with NFL general managers regarding Boyd’s draft status.
“As head coach at Pitt, it is my responsibility to make sure each of our players make an informed decision on early draft entry,” Narduzzi said.
“Although I only coached him for a year, I will forever be a fan and supporter of Tyler and his family. I wish him the very best at the next level and know he will make an NFL team very happy.”
Boyd joined Pitt in 2013 as a four-star recruit out of Clairton and made an immediate impact for the Panthers. Despite primarily playing running back in high school, he had no problems transitioning to receiver in college, and caught 85 passes for 1,174 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman in 2013.
He backed that up with an impressive sophomore campaign, in which he recorded 78 receptions for 1,261 yards and eight touchdowns. Boyd was the first player in ACC history to top 1,000 receiving yards in both of his first two seasons.
His junior year got off to an inauspicious start in June when he was charged with DUI and suspended for the Panthers’ season-opener against Youngstown State as a result.
Still, Boyd came back strong enough to lead the ACC in receptions, despite playing in just 12 games.
Under new coach Pat Narduzzi and new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, Boyd wasn’t used as much as a downfield threat this season, which may be one reason he is no longer considered a surefire first-round pick.
Boyd averaged 14.9 yards per reception in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, but that figure dipped to 10.2 this season.
Pitt will have its work cut out for it replacing Boyd next season. All of the other Panthers will be returning, but Boyd accounted for 42.9 percent of Pitt’s receptions this season. Their next-leading receiver, redshirt junior Dontez Ford, had just 26 catches.
Pitt could get a boost from its 2016 recruiting class, which includes four-star receiver Ruben Flowers, as well as JUCO product (and former Maryland receiver) Juwann Winfree.
Sam Werner: email@example.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.
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