The date on the Boyd family calendar is circled: February 4th.
That's National Signing Day, the first day high school football prospects can sign their letters-of-intent. Phoebus quarterback Tajh Boyd hopes to have announced his pick by then. As of now, he's down to Ohio State and Oregon
though things can always change.
But Feb. 4 is also Surgery Day, the day Boyd's worse-than-we-thought knee is to undergo reconstruction. How's that for a coincidence?
"I guess I could sign (the letter of intent) at the hospital," Boyd said with a laugh
After all the craziness of the recruiting process -- the commitments, the decommitments, the flurry of telephone calls and visits -- signing his letter from a hospital bed would be an interesting conclusion.
Things took an interesting-enough turn Saturday, when Boyd turned in an MVP performance -- 7-of-9 passing, 188 yards, three touchdowns -- in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. It also was revealed that day, on national television no less, that he had played the last nine games of his senior year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Everyone knew his knee was hurting. Against Warwick on Sept. 19, he went down awkwardly and came out for two plays. He missed the next two games, but since they were against overmatched opponents, few were suspicious. The official word: a sprain.
Boyd returned on Oct. 10 against rival Hampton. And he played the rest of the year. But what Boyd, his family and Phantoms coach Bill Dee didn't tell anyone was, his ACL was torn all along.
"We didn't want to go public about it because we thought maybe some opponents would aim for his knee and he would get hurt further," said his mother, Carla. "We didn't want to risk that."
Boyd faced a decision: Declare his high school career over and focus on college, or gut it out and try to win another state title.
"At first, I wasn't going to play," he said. "But we put so much work into the offseason, and I didn't want to disappoint the team. So I felt I should at least try."
Dee left the decision to Boyd and his parents.
"Let's face it, deep down, I wanted him to play," Dee said. "But I didn't try to influence him in any way. There was never any guarantee, and that's why it had to be Tajh's decision to play."
Though the ACL was torn, the family says Tajh was fortunate in that there was no damage to the meniscus or other ligaments. Carla and her husband, Tim, say doctors told them the injury would not get worse.
Boyd was fitted for a knee brace, which arrived a couple of days before the Hampton game. Dee did his best to call a conservative game plan, and Boyd's outstanding front line kept him out of trouble.
There was some anxiety, like when he tried to make a tackle after an interception against Denbigh. When he catapulted into the end zone against Kecoughtan. When he tripped on a TV cable against Lake Taylor.
"Cardiac moments," Carla called them.
Boyd says all schools recruiting him -- including West Virginia and Tennessee, his two previous commitments -- knew about the severity of the injury. He expects to be good to go by August, when preseason practice starts.
And since Oregon and Ohio State each have the quarter system, Boyd says he could graduate Phoebus early and enroll at either college in March.
"Oregon, their facilities are off the chart," Boyd said. "They have underwater treadmills and a whole lot of different technology some hospitals don't even have. That's a reason why Oregon is real high on my list."
That list has changed over the last several months, starting with Boyd's commitment to West Virginia in March and then to Tennessee in November. Now, with signing day less than four weeks away, the Pac-10 and Big Ten are battling it out.
But that could also change. Clemson is making a late and intense push, and Boyd might visit Death Valley this weekend. As of Tuesday night, he was leaning toward not taking what would be his final official visit.
"I've got it basically down to Ohio State and Oregon," he said. "I'm comfortable with those schools. And I'll probably commit in the next two weeks."
He's had plenty of suitors all along, and it's gotten even crazier since Saturday. Carla says she received a 10 p.m. call from Kansas State coach Bill Snyder earlier this week. Duke is trying to get involved. So is Virginia Tech. And Michigan. And South Carolina.
"I think any school I wanted to call up now," Tajh said, "I could go there."