Jarrett Boykin: Stepping Up To The Plate
Injuries, injuries and more injuries, It’s becoming predictable and at times painful to watch. Having a plethora of key players hurt has become a recurring theme of Packer teams in recent memory, but this year – even more so than previous years – the Pack are coping with a depleted roster with young talent filling in admirably.
With James Jones, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley all sidelined, 23 year old WR Jarrett Boykin is making noise, leading the charge of new home grown talent, showing style, finesse and raw ability in the new-look Packer offense, keeping Wisconsin’s hopes of a playoff run alive.
It’s not often that a star at a college as big as Virginia Tech go undrafted, but that was the fate of senior wide receiver Boykin after a record setting four year stint with the Hokies. Boykin left Virginia Tech as the all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards with a monster 761 yard, five touchdown final season. He was to many in the ‘Old Dominion’ a real star. But, despite such illustrious career, Jarrett went into the 2012 combine projected to go undrafted.
‘ [Boykin] cannot run by cornerbacks vertically.’ Described Pro Football Weekly. ‘He is slow out of the blocks. Has average suddenness out of breaks to create separation vs. man coverage. With tight hips and inconsistent hands (occasional concentration drop) he is not creative or elusive after the catch.’ This criticism – while fair – didn’t cause Jarrett to give up on his dream, but instead work harder for it.
Boykin is a humble and quiet character who seemingly is without an ego. “I didn’t look at myself as bigger than what I really was. Like I said, I’m a humble, laid back type of guy. I kind of knew the way it would turn out based on my speed. I just figured let all that go to rest on its own and whenever I get a chance just go out there and try to prove people wrong.” He said in a sit down with Packers’ writer Vic Ketchman earlier this year.
Originally picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the career of Boykin could be very different right now if it wasn’t for the sheer number of receiver talent clogging up the Flordia based team’s roster. The saturation of ability from guys like Mount Union’s Cecil Shorts III, Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State and Marcedes Lewis out of Cal left him out in the cold. “It was very disappointing, frustrating.” he told Vic. “Like I said, being athletes and competitors you want to go out there and be able to have that chance to go out there and show what you can do. When they let you know that it’s not going to work out, you’re down and thinking what’s next? So I think I waited like a week and got the phone call from Green Bay and was chomping at the bit.”
Upon arriving at the Packers’ rookie camp, Boykin was impressive, not stellar, but easily worthy of a spot on the extended roster. The season that followed would reflect this, with the rookie Chattanooga native sitting on the sideline, waiting for his chance to shine. By the time he left the Packers facility for the final time in Spring 2013, he had only five receptions, for 27 yards and no touchdowns. 2013 has faired much better so far for Boykin however, it is clear he kept working during the off season, improving every aspect of his game.
The Packer’s injury bug has come at the perfect time it seems – as becoming the second string receiver in the past two games behind the ‘no-name-phenom’ known as Jordy Nelson has seldom seemed too big for him.
Its no secret that his performance at Baltimore was a struggle aside from his sole 43 yard reception. The chemistry with Aaron Rodgers wasn’t there, with some key drops and sloppy route running creating a cause for concern. This was a blip though, as he has since looked easily good enough to keep up with the big boys in the National Football League.
In merely a week he improved enough to deserve his roster spot, as he exploded onto the scene at Lambeau Field. He set his first 100 yard game against Cleveland on week 7 with a beautiful 20 yard touchdown catch, and had an 89 yard performance against the hapless Minnesota Vikings a week later, gaining some key yards in a remarkable punt-less showing from the Packer offense.
With three of the four star Packer pass catchers out along with many defensive pieces, you would think it would be easy and frankly intelligent to count Green Bay out of most games. This is definitely not the case, mainly because of performances like Boykin’s. The Pack keep on rolling, riding a four game win streak, overcoming setbacks like no team since the 2010 Packers – and we all know what happened to that particular team the following February.
All his life, Jarrett Boykin has had to dig deep and push himself to overcome adversity. From his Father passing while he was a just baby, to having to prove himself after a shaky start to his pro career. It’s been far from easy for Jarrett, but its clear he has the will, the talent, the skill and the drive to succeed.
At a time when the Packers need energy from the bowls of the roster, so far Jarrett Boykin has stepped up to the plate, shocking and impressing everyone in just two weeks. He has deservingly become one of the main headlines of the first half of the Packers 2013 campaign, who knows what he can achieve in the second?