WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Former Viera Hawks DB-Athlete Jay Boyd Making A Splash At Tusculum College
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Assistant Editor, Space Coast Daily // January 9, 2017
Boyd excels under a familiar Brevard County name Audio Interview with Jay Boyd Included in story
ABOVE VIDEO: Former Viera Hawk and current Tusculum Pioneer Jay Boyd had an outstanding freshman season for the Pioneers.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – With arguably the best college freshman season of any Brevard County football player from the class of 2016, former Viera Hawks defensive back Jay Boyd was missed on and off the field this year on the Space Coast.
Boyd’s flair and charisma during interviews made him one of the most sought after athletes following Viera football games in 2015.
Considering the Hawks made it all the way to the state championship game in 2015, Boyd did a lot of on camera work for the Friday Night Locker Room and Space Coast Daily.
Boyd was just as good on the field during his freshman year in college during the 2016 season, as he was for the Hawks in 2015.
In fact, Boyd was named the 2015 Defensive Most Valuable Player by the Friday Night Locker Room and Space Coast Daily when we released the 2015 Outstanding Brevard Prep Football Players from last season.
On the defensive side of the football, Boyd dominated the top of just about every ballot turned in by Space Coast area coaches. With 102 total tackles and one sack, Boyd was an all-around defense force to be reckoned with.
In the secondary he forced seven pass breakups and intercepted opposing passers nine times during his senior season.
ABOVE VIDEO: Jay Boyd talks with Space Coast Daily’s Alan Zlotorzynski at signing day last February.
Originally, Boyd committed to play his college football with Hawks teammate Alex Cabrera at Eastern Kentucky University, but later decided he needed to focus a more on his studies and chose to transfer to Tusculum College to play for the Pioneers and head coach Jerry Odom.
Tusculum is a NCAA division II coeducational private college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), with its main campus in the city of Tusculum, Tennessee, a suburb of the town of Greeneville.
It is Tennessee’s oldest college and the 23rd oldest operating college in the United States.
If Tusculum head coach Jerry Odom’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s from Merritt Island where his father, Gerald, took the Mustangs to the zenith of the high school ranks during the 1980s and early 1990s in Brevard County.
Cocoa Tigers head coach and now four time state football champion, John Wilkinson, credits Gerald Odom for much of his success to this day.
He also happens to be very good friends with Jerry.
ABOVE AUDIO: Interview conducted by Space Coast Daily’s Assistant Editor and host of Space Coast Daily Sports Shorts, Alan Zlotorzynski, with Jay Boyd on January 7.
Jerry is himself a 25-year football coaching veteran, who boasts a strong lineage of experience at the collegiate and professional ranks where he has mentored 15 NFL players and coached in five postseason bowl games including the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Outback Bowl.
Odom took over at Tusculum last December 15, and having fellow Brevard County native Boyd come to play for him worked out perfectly for both coach and player.
Boyd’s freshman year for the Pioneers was more impressive than his senior season at Viera. After assuming double duties, playing defensive back and returning kicks, as he did for head coach Kevin Mays at Viera, Boyd turned heads all season on the field.
On special teams, he paced the Pioneers on kickoff returns, averaging a South Atlantic Conference-best 25.95 yards per return (37th in all NCAA II), including his 95-yard return for a touchdown in Tusculum’s 38-28 road win over Catawba.
His 95-yard return is the third longest in program history and for his efforts was named the SAC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Boyd really stood out in the defensive secondary.
ABOVE VIDEO: Highlights of Jay Boyd who intercepted two second half passes, helping the Tusculum Pioneers come from behind to win on homecoming.
Boyd led the league with five interceptions, which tied for the second most in school history and matches teammate’s Martez Thompkins (2015) for the most picks by a Tusculum freshman. In his 10 games, the former Hawk posted 44 tackles, including six for a loss, with three pass break-ups, he forced a fumble and recovered another.
For his efforts, Boyd was named the 2016 South Atlantic Conference Defensive Freshman of the Year. He also garnered All-Conference accolades both as a defensive back and as a return specialist.
In mid-December Boyd was been named a national finalist for the Cliff Harris Award, which recognizes the top small college defensive player in the country.
The Cliff Harris Award is presented annually to the nation’s top small college defensive player of the year representing more than 5,000 defensive players from almost 500 NCAA Division II, Division III and NAIA colleges and universities.
Boyd was the lone NCAA II freshman to be recognized and one of only two rookies amongst the national finalists for the Cliff Harris Award. Of the DII honorees, only two were from the South Atlantic Conference including Boyd and Catawba defensive lineman Kyle Kitchens.
Boyd became the third Pioneer to garner SAC Defensive Freshman of the Year honors, joining former All-American and TC Sports Hall of Famer Craig Pritchett (2000) and current teammate L’Keith Brown (2014).
The overall winner of the Cliff Harris award was senior linebacker Conner Harris of Lindenwood University.
Coach Odom is building a strong program at Tusculum. After starting the 2016 season 1-6, the Pioneers finished strong, going 4-7 overall and 3-4 in the South Atlantic Conference. However, Tusculum won three of its last four games and finished fourth in the South Atlantic Conference.
Boyd has decided on nursing as a major, which as he stated to me, “people unfortunately are always going to be sick in the world and I’d like to do my part.”
Boyd has found a second home on a campus he says reminds him of high school in how everyone knows each other and he enjoys playing for coach Odom.
If Boyd was an all-conference player getting used to the college life and adjusting to the size and speed of the college game, there is no telling what he can do now that he knows what to expect in his sophomore season next year.
Look for big things from Jay Boyd in the future – both on and off the field.
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