SALT LAKE CITY — A long waiting game is finally over for Bronson Boyd.
Boyd will get a chance to play for the first time in nearly two years when he takes the field for Utah this season. The redshirt freshman sat out in 2017 after joining the Utes following his dismissal from Texas Tech. He also missed his senior season at The Oakridge School, a private school in Arlington, Texas, in 2016 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder.
The whole experience taught Boyd patience.
“It was a humbling experience,” Boyd said. “I’m glad I had to go through it just to humble myself.”
He already has shown potential as a much-needed deep threat for the Utes in spring practices. Utah is replacing its top two receivers from a year ago and Boyd is already in the mix to claim a starting job.
If he can climb atop the depth chart, it would mark a satisfying culmination to his comeback journey. Boyd originally signed with Texas Tech as part of the team’s 2017 recruiting class. He enrolled early with the Red Raiders but then was abruptly dismissed in January 2017 for a violation of team rules stemming from an alleged altercation with a teammate.
Utah, which originally recruited Boyd out of high school, became his next destination. He joined the Utes by the summer.
“They were always on my radar,” Boyd said. “They were in my top eight coming out of high school before I committed. I always had a good relationship with Coach (Guy) Holliday and bringing in Coach (Troy) Taylor just helped the process. Made it a lot easier for me to just commit.”
Utah has a good track record when it comes to taking a gamble on players in need of a fresh start. Darren Carrington offered the most recent success story.
Carrington joined the Utes in fall camp a year ago after Oregon dismissed him that summer over a DUI arrest. He emerged as Utah’s top receiver, totaling 980 yards and six touchdowns on 70 receptions.
The Utes aren’t concerned about what happened with Boyd in the past because they believe a bright future lies ahead.
“I don’t look at it as a second chance,” said Holliday, the Utes’ receivers coach. “These are 18-year-old kids. They make bad decisions where to go to school sometimes. I knew his parents and he’s a good kid who we’re fortunate to have here.”
Boyd originally played basketball in high school before switching his focus to football before his junior season. He made an instant impact for The Oakridge School with 1,137 yards and eight touchdowns on 61 receptions in his junior season.
Boyd’s uncle, former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Dexter Coakley, persuaded him to give football a shot after convincing him that his 6-foot-1 frame gave Boyd greater opportunities to move to the next level as a wide receiver than as a point guard. Holliday said Boyd needs to still learn some nuances of the position, but he’s doing well enough to contend for a starting job in the spring.
“He has the skill set that translates for what we do,” Holliday said.
Boyd, who is listed at 187 pounds, added 10 pounds during his redshirt season to improve his durability. He also soaked in as much as he could from Taylor’s playbook and came away with a better understanding of what his role needs to be on the field.
Head coach Kyle Whittingham said Boyd has displayed greater maturity this spring after spending a redshirt year in the program.
“He’s really much more coachable and much more disciplined in what he does and much more polished as a wide receiver,” Whittingham said. “He’s a hard worker. He really works hard on his craft and his skill set is very good.”
Boyd’s efforts have paid off so far. Boyd entered spring camp listed second on the depth chart at X receiver, behind returning starter Siaosi Mariner. Mariner is Utah’s top returning receiver with 393 yards on 20 catches a season ago.
“Spending a year of redshirting helped me learn the offense better,” Boyd said. “I learned the whole offense, not just what I got. Every play. What every other player has.”