“Through these doors walk the greatest”
Tyis Boykin may as well adopt a nickname from former great Kordell Stewart, Slash, because of all the positions he can contribute to on the football field. Primarily he does his damage from the slot receiver position, but he is also a very often used option in the run game as well. Deebo Samuel may have made it popular in 2021, but Boykin has been doing this since high school.
High School Career
Attending Saint Peter Marian High School, he was able to contribute in the passing game as a quarterback and wide receiver. In the run game whether lined up as quarterback, as a tailback, or in the jet sweep game. On defense at free safety, or on special teams in the return game.
Showing his speed and athleticism he also competed in track. When asked if track was ever competing for his heart “No, no, in the offseason most guys play another sport to help keep you in shape for football season. Football was always my first love.” Tyis Boykin has two things that matter above all else in his life, Family and Football.
After four seasons at the high school that also produced former Chicago Bear defensive back and punt returner Jerry Azumah, Boykin found little in the way of college interest at the Division I or II level.
Tyis has a story about his recruitment process. “I was in the car with my mom, and I started tearing up a little bit. Right as I was beginning to get teary-eyed, I got a call from Coach Chesney. He offered me.” He would end up playing under Coach Bob Chesney the head coach of Assumption College at the time.
Boykin would spend the next three years playing under coach Chesney and offensive coordinator Paul McGonagle. Right away as a freshman Boykin and his teammates carried the school to their first 7 win season in over two decades. Things only got better from there record wise, but there were still bumps in the road for Boykin.
In year two with Assumption the coaching staff began to find a role for the versatile, and electric receiver. He would rack up 250 all purpose yards, and 1 touchdown as a sophomore. Heading into his junior year, his third season in this offense, he was poised for more growth in his role. That’s when he would find out his father had fallen seriously ill.
Tyis Boykin didn’t question his next actions, and left the football team to focus on his family. Showing he has his priorities right where they should be. He ended up taking the entire 2017-2018 season off. He considered leaving school all together, but Coach Chesney stepped in and suggested he needs to stay in school for his own good. Chesney knew what leaving school could cause for Boykin, and he was right.
However this leave of absence affected his snaps the following season when he returned for year three under McGonagle and Chesney. He would play in several games but would see just 2 receptions for 13 yards. Even if he had been able to impress the staff with those limited snaps, Coach Chesney was able to parlay his performance with Assumption into a position with Holy Cross. Moving up to the Division I level, he was replaced by a new staff.
New Coaching Staff, New Role
With a new coaching staff coming in, a new role came as well. This meant an uptick in snaps, but he would still be asked to split time at the receiver position. He was also playing across from current New Orleans Saint, Deonte Harris, who monopolized the snaps at one wide receiver position leaving Boykin to fight for snaps on the other side.
Often in football we see situations where coaches lean on those that know their system when possible. You need look no further than what Bart Andrus did when tasked with building a 45 man roster, picked up around 15 of his former players or a third of his roster. Boykin found himself on the other end of this very situation.
Coming over as a former offensive coordinator at Holy Cross, new head coach Andy McKenzie had a few players he seemed to favor. This fact helped cut into Boykin’s snap count. However, when talking to Boykin, he took it in stride saying “I knew I could do better, but I can always do better” To me this is a sign of a player with his head on straight. He would rather take it as a personal challenge to do better or be better.
Prior to the 2019 season, Boykin was forced to have ankle surgery. He was able to play through the 2019 season. However, following the season he was forced to have another procedure to clean up his ankle. This led to a rehab process that made his decision fairly easy.
Instead of declaring for the 2019 draft, he instead looked to the 2020 draft. He would watch as Deonte Harris went undrafted and ended up signing with the Saints. While on the surface being fully healthy for the combine and pro-day circuits was extremely crucial. Boykin’s game was predicated on speed, and lateral agility.
Due to powers outside of anyone’s control things changed in ways no one foresaw in 2020. Late in 2019 the Covid 19 virus spread and ruined any hopes many rookies had for a chance to truly showcase themselves. One of those rookies was Boykin, who had just sat out a season due to injury. This situation was likely more damaging to Boykin than most given this situation.
Change In Mindset Leads to First Game Action
Boykin had a family member playing for the Worcester Wildcats, a semi-professional team in the New England Football League. At first Boykin had resisted suggestions to join the league seeing it as an admission that he may never make the NFL level.
It wasn’t until he looked at it and saw the opportunity at hand that led him to sign with the Wildcats. During our interview Boykin explains this mindset change. “I should be able to go to this league and dominate, and prove I belong.”
Often in life it is the opportunities we don’t want to take, that prove to be the best decision for us. Maybe it’s because you approach that opportunity with a different mindset, one that resembles that high school motto Boykin carries with him to this day. “Through These Doors Walk the Greatest”
Finally Gets to Professional Football
Following the 2021 season, Tyis Boykin and a chance meeting with a fellow wide receiver is what led to his next opportunity. When training he ended up at the same facility as Andrew Jamiel a veteran from Season 1.0 of the Fan Controlled Football League. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
Boykin in speaking with Jamiel “What are you about to go do?” Jamiel: “I’m going to go back to the FCF” The two receivers talked more about the league, and before long Jamiel had lured more talent to the FCF. Boykin decided to attend the final FCF open try-out. The infamous Atlanta Location.
This last try-out was in the same city that would house the FCF in 2022. This is part of the reason I believe we saw a large amount of players make it into the league following this try-out. In attending the try-out, Tyis Boykin would develop some chemistry with one of the more impressive quarterbacks at this try-out, Justin Arth.
This chemistry seemed to help Boykin, and ultimately this led to a contract offer for Boykin. Things only got better from here. During the following man-up challenge to give the fans and everyone involved a better look at players, Boykin aced this challenge.
This led to him being drafted 5th overall in the initial draft. This would pair him with Terrell Owens, and Johnny Manziel the two biggest offensive names in the game. Boykin took advantage of the time and learned from the hall of fame receiver.
Chemistry Leads to Next Team
A quarterback that he played with during the man up challenge, Slade “The Blade” Jarman would develop a connection with Boykin. Due to this connection, Jarman campaigned for Boykin to be drafted by his team the Shoulda Been Stars.
This chemistry only further developed as the Stars brought in Boykin and paired the two together once again. This has led to a solid showing by Boykin. He has been targeted 24 times catching 15 passes for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns in the passing game. But he has also been used at Super Back in the FCF as well.
Taking a page from the Deebo Samuel/Cordarelle Patterson handbook, Boykin racked up quite the role in the run game. He carried the ball 20 times, for 51 yards and 2 more touchdowns. Boykin had showcased what he could do heading into this past weekend’s match-up with the Zappers.
Unfortunately for Boykin, James Harden, and Kelly Bryant would lead an offensive explosion for the Zappers and the Shoulda Been Stars were unable to keep pace. Ultimately they would be knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, but I would call this a pretty awesome rookie season for the FCF star.
I look forward to what Boykin has in store for his career next, whether he makes the leap to the next level, or returns to dominate the FCF in year 3.0 remains to be seen. Although it does sound like Boykin has some interest in the XFL showcases. It is quickly beginning to look like the FCF could be a defacto developmental league for the XFL.
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