Boyd on Board for Brotherhood, Big East

Boyd on Board for Brotherhood, Big East

No service academy recruit made bigger waves on National Singing Day than Jalen Boyd, who to the chagrin of Air Force fans decided to decommit from one academy and sign at another. Now Navy bound, Boyd explains his path to Annapolis, and how the ups and downs of major college coaching changes made him think long and hard about his future.

It wasn't so long ago that Scout.com 3-Star athlete Jalen Boyd was looking forward to a future playing for head coach Ron Zook at the University of Illinois. A physical cornerback holding offers from the likes of Hawaii, Stanford, and all three of the service academies, Boyd thought he was just the right player to make an impact at a Big 10 school. That was until Zook was fired in late November, and the country's 105th rated cornerback was forced to take a hard look at his options.

"At first I had no plans on going to a service academy, but as the season was going on, most of the schools I had offers from had coaching changes and things like that," explained Boyd, who also had interest from UCLA before the firing of Rick Neuheisel.

"I was planning on committing to Illinois, but when they had their coaching change that's when Air Force and Navy jumped on," he finished.

With his recruitment coming to a sudden halt with a number of schools, Boyd turned to advice from his father and head coach, LaVell, who suggested a previously unconsidered route of playing college football to his son.

"I wasn't planning on going (to a service academy) but he made a lot of sense to me," Boyd said of his father's advice. "He said, ‘you have five offers left, and three are service academies. Isn't that showing you something?' It opened my eyes."

"I guess God put me in a situation where my last three offers were service academies," Boyd continued. "It just opened my eyes to where I need to be. When that sign came to where I needed to be I followed that sign."

That sign first led Boyd to Colorado Springs, where, after a December visit, he gave a verbal commitment to play for the Falcons. He nevertheless made sure to visit both Army and Navy, although came away with no clearer picture after his visit to Annapolis. It wasn't until after a final visit to West Point that he really sat down and assessed each academy, and realized the best option for his future.

"Even after my visit at both academies, I was still set on Air Force. But when I took my visit to Army I had time to think about it, and it made me realize where my home is really at, and that's at Navy," Boyd said.

Boyd set the record straight with why he chose Navy over Air Force. Navy's move to the Big East was an essential part in his decision, but it wasn't the only element. The ability to return to his home state and play in front of family and friends against his father's alma mater, Louisville, was important, as was the chance to be a part of the Navy "Brotherhood."

"I did a pros and cons list, and Navy had more pros," Boyd said. "It's closer to home and all my games will be closer to home, and also in the middle of a city. There's just a lot of pros about it. The location was the biggest one, and them going to the Big East came second."

Boyd continued, saying playing in a league with a number of eastern-based teams would give him the opportunity to play in front of his parents more often than not. He said he didn't feel like Air Force could offer that due to its location in Colorado.

"It's very important to me because that means most of my games will be where my parents can see me play. A lot of people made a comment about me saying how I want Louisville – and that is true, I do want Louisville," he added, laughing.

One might think that being such a highly contested commodity for all three service academies would yield negative recruiting. But according to Boyd the opposite was the case, and neither Navy's nor Air Force's coaches told him not to attend the other academy.

"Both of them were saying you don't go wrong be either program, it's all about where you feel comfortable at. Both coaches respected each other and respected each others' programs," Boyd maintained.

Unlike some recruits who've told GoMids.com that they felt like the bond or ‘brotherhood' between players at Navy was much stronger than the bonds between players at Air Force, Boyd claimed all three service academies consist of unique player relationships. At Navy, however, he felt these relationships extended deeper when it came to interaction between upper and lower classmen, and said he instantly felt welcomed during his visit to Annapolis.

"I think the difference at Navy is the freshmen aren't isolated," Boyd said. "At the other academies the freshmen seem more isolated from the other guys, but when I went to Navy, it was like everybody was together and close."

Boyd will travel to the Naval Academy Prep School before taking to Annapolis. For now, he's relishing the chance to be a future part of the Navy Brotherhood, and looking forward to making an impact.

"I'm just excited to have the opportunity to play college football. Everything else will come. It's all set for me already. I'm just going to keep doing what I do, and everything will be there."

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