James Boyd finishes his summer-school English class this morning, and then he can truly focus on UNLV’s training camp.
But Boyd has made the most of his opportunities when on the football field, though he has missed practice time each day since camp opened Tuesday.
“It doesn’t matter if I have class or not, I go out here and work hard,” Boyd said. “We want to have a better season. I want to set an example for the younger guys who just came, to show them that you’ve got to work hard.”
Much is expected of Boyd, who began his career at Southern California and was a highly rated defensive end.
He signed early with UNLV, and was promised he would have a shot at quarterback. But the Rebels moved Boyd (6 feet 5 inches, 255 pounds) to end on the final day of spring, and he dominated.
Boyd, a junior, has shown the strength and athleticism this week that could help him win the starting job and perhaps become one of the Mountain West Conference’s top defenders.
He displayed that athletic ability Thursday with a quick burst off the line of scrimmage to pressure junior quarterback Caleb Herring.
“He’s certainly starting to get what we want, which is a little bit of a change of personality from when he got here,” coach Bobby Hauck said. “I’m excited for that. Obviously, he’s got to keep going. That’s part of the deal. These are early days of fall camp, but I’m really encouraged by his attitude and his effort.”
■ COMING ON - Herring and redshirt freshman Nick Sherry separated themselves in the spring to make it an apparent two-man race at quarterback.
Hauck, however, said senior Sean Reilly doesn’t want to be counted out.
“It looks to me like Sean Reilly’s had a heck of a summer by the way he’s improved,” Hauck said. “He’s had a good three days of practice. He’s trying to work his way more back into the mix.”
Hauck said following spring practices he hoped to name a starter early in camp.
“That’s my hope,” he said. “I don’t think you can force that decision, but we want to make that decision as soon as we think it’s fruitful to do it.”
The best offensive play Thursday was made with Sherry behind center. He lofted a pass into the back of the end zone that sophomore Taylor Spencer went high to grab.
■ DUAL PURPOSES – Senior Eric Johnson is receiving time at running back and wideout.
He was a receiver in the spring before running back Dionza Bradford left the team. Then Bradford, now a sophomore, returned this week, making running back a crowded position.
Receiver appears to be thinner, but Johnson was a standout back at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Calif.
“He’s a guy that’s got a variety of skills,” Hauck said. “He’s good at both positions. He’s good with the ball in his hands, so if he can play more positions, we’ve got a chance to get it to him a little more.”
■ LONG RECOVERY? – Freshman tight end Nick Gstrein wore a boot on his left foot.
“He’s got a foot problem, and big guys and feet are not a good combination,” Hauck said. “We hope to have him back at some point, but it looks to be extended rehab for him.”
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.