- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jarrett Boykin’s name doesn’t float to the top of many discussions about the nation’s top wideouts.

But maybe it should.

The Virginia Tech senior owns two of the top five receiving seasons in Hokies history. He needs four receptions to become the school’s career leader in that category. He’s just 150 yards shy of surpassing Ricky Scales’ 37-year-old career mark at Virginia Tech.

And if Boykin manages another 800-yard season starting with Saturday’s opener against Appalachian State, he’ll become only the fourth ACC player to string three of those in a row. The others: Duke’s Clarkston Hines (1987-89), Florida State’s Peter Warrick (1997-99) and Georgia Tech’s Calvin Johnson (2004-06).

“I think Jarrett is probably hands down one of the best receivers in this country,” junior flanker Marcus Davis said. “I don’t think he gets the publicity and hype that he deserves, but he doesn’t take it like that. If you say that, he’ll tell you to be quiet.”

Or he’ll just discuss how he’s gradually fine-tuned his skill set and continued his steady progress since arriving in Blacksburg in 2008. The wide receiving corps was wiped out by graduation after the previous season, which meant Boykin needed to play while becoming comfortable at the college level.

Things clicked the next year, and further improvement came last season. It just came quietly.

Jarrett is a solid player,” Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. “Just a guy that doesn’t say a lot but plays big.”

His priorities in camp last month were fittingly subtle. Blocking and how he moved his feet drew attention daily, with practice video devoured regularly during film sessions to prepare for his final year.

“I just focus on what I have to do and just do what they ask me to do,” Boykin said. “When it’s time to play, it’s a whole different me. I’m not one to showboat and be splashy. I’ve never been that type of person.”

He will, however, need to be visible this season, even if his career to date remains a bit underappreciated.

Virginia Tech (11-3 last season) saw tailbacks Darren Evans and Ryan Williams turn pro early. More significantly, quarterback Tyrod Taylor graduated after becoming the school’s career passing leader while taking the Hokies to their third ACC title in four years.

Redshirt sophomore Logan Thomas steps into Taylor’s spot, and he received praise throughout a strong offseason. He’s also attempted only 26 passes in his career.

Thomas, a tank-like presence at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, is hard to miss. Boykin, the Hokies’ most established receiver, is someone Thomas undoubtedly will keep an eye on all season.

Whether he hears much chatter from the Charlotte, N.C., native is another matter.

“Every now and then it catches you by surprise, and you’ll say ‘Jarrett, I didn’t expect you to say that,’ ” Davis said. “Once in a blue moon, he’ll say something. When he says it, you know it’s serious. When he says something, he usually means business.”

When he sizes up his aims for this fall, Boykin is pointed in what he hopes to accomplish. The Hokies, who open the year ranked No. 13 in the Associated Press poll, were touted in the preseason as a national title sleeper.

Now it’s a matter of making good on that possibility and adding to the team accomplishments Boykin enjoyed over the past three seasons.

“Since coming in as a true freshman, I’ve been spoiled, winning ACC championships and the Orange Bowl and the Chick-Fil-A Bowl,” Boykin said. “I feel like we’re one of the top programs and [always] competing for the ACC championship. I feel it’s something expected of us. This year, I want to take it to another level and go to the national championship.”

Fittingly, those hopes have nothing to do with Boykin’s steady statistical prowess. The records, some of which could come into his possession by mid-September, are things Boykin can appreciate once his college career is long since complete.

For now, though, Boykin’s attention is invested in something bigger as he continues to handle his work more quietly than most big-name receivers.

“I think that’s why he has so much respect from our room and other rooms within the team,” Davis said. “He could be the opposite where he could say ‘I’m not getting this.’ He goes about his business like he’s a professional already.”

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