There have been, to be sure, more bizarre recruiting stories.
There was the kid from South Carolina two years ago who was so torn up by the process that he actually signed letters-of-intent with two schools. There was the kid from Nevada last year who was so desperate for recruiting attention that he fictionalized it.
Phoebus quarterback Tajh Boyd's story doesn't even begin to approach that level of madness. Still, what looked to be a quick-and-easy closure last March became a drawn-out saga with false starts and U-turns.
"I had," he said, "one of the most crazy recruiting processes of the year."
In the end, after previously committing to West Virginia and Tennessee, Boyd signed with Clemson in a school ceremony Wednesday morning. It seems a good fit — new coach Dabo Swinney likes a passing offense, and the Tigers have only one experienced quarterback returning.
Yet no one could have seen it coming last March, when Boyd enthusiastically announced his commitment to West Virginia. Mountaineers coach Bill Stewart reacted by kissing his new quarterback on the forehead. Boyd not only stocked up on blue-and-gold WVU merchandise, he helped recruit other prospects to Morgantown.
But seven months later, disappointed with the direction of the Mountaineers' offense, Boyd took back that commitment. Two-and-a-half weeks after that, on Nov. 1, Boyd declared his commitment to Tennessee. As for the rumors of Vols coach Phillip Fulmer's imminent firing? Boyd said Fulmer and athletic director Mike Hamilton "told me they didn't think anything was going to happen." But two days later, Fulmer was forced out.
Boyd remained sold on Tennessee and was eager to see whom the Vols would get as their new coach. They ended up with 33-year-old Lane Kiffin, the former Southern California offensive coordinator and (for 20 games) Oakland Raiders' head coach.
Kiffin is partial to pro-style quarterbacks like Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez. Boyd, he decided, would not be a good fit. The Boyd family said Kiffin didn't withdraw the scholarship offer but made it clear Boyd would not be a part of the Vols' plans.
So Tajh Boyd was on the market again.
"It was frustrating," he said. "But I felt, well, it's time to open things up and re-evaluate the schools. And schools from everywhere started calling."
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Boyd visited Oregon and Ohio State and was impressed by both. But Clemson, which didn't seriously recruit him while Tommy Bowden was coach, made a late charge.
Swinney, who took over for the fired Bowden on Oct. 13, wanted Boyd to visit the weekend of Jan. 10, but Boyd couldn't work it out. He and his family drove down the following weekend, and Death Valley's atmosphere — "It's like an SEC school in the ACC," Boyd said — made it a three-horse race.
In the days leading up to his announcement Jan. 27, Boyd said he had difficulty making up his mind. Oregon has an offensive mastermind in coordinator Chip Kelly as well as a top-notch sports marketing program. Ohio State is an established program and Bowl Championship Series staple. Clemson has the tradition as well as a fresh start.
Other schools tried to get involved, no doubt impressed by Boyd's co-MVP performance in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 3. Boyd tried changing his cell-phone number, but it didn't matter.
"One time, we were sitting at the table and his phone buzzed and buzzed and buzzed," said Boyd's mother, Carla. "It was, like, 20 missed calls and text messages."
Boyd's official announcement was almost anticlimactic. He sat behind three hats and, without any teasing, put the Clemson lid on his head.
"I was just ready to get it over with," he said, sounding more relieved than anything.
Even in making his decision, Boyd still came across as a little uncertain: "I guess for the next four or five years of my college career, I'll be attending Clemson University. … At the moment, I feel this is the school I should attend. … Hopefully, this will be the right school."
If he was uncertain, who could blame him? He was certain about West Virginia, until he wasn't. He was certain about Tennessee, until the Vols advised him to look elsewhere. A process everyone thought was over last spring dragged on and on and on.
"There were a bunch of calls," he said, "and a bunch of headaches."
At least Boyd didn't sign with two different schools, as Cowpens, S.C., receiver Markish Jones did with Clemson and Florida State in 2007. (He ended up at a junior college and is expected to enroll at California this fall.)
Nor did he fabricate an entire recruiting process. In 2008, Fernley, Nev., lineman Kevin Hart called a press conference to announce he had picked California over Oregon. The only problem was, neither school had ever heard of him, let alone offered him a scholarship. Hart had made everything up.
As for a kid changing his mind about a commitment, that's become so common that recruiting wonks have invented a word for it — "de-commit."
Last year, according to ESPN.com, 156 prospects committed to one school but signed with another. Fourteen ended up committing to at least three different schools.
Boyd's saga never became that bizarre. But it was still one strange trip.
"It's good to have it over with," he said. "Now I can move on to the next chapter."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun