Hokies’ Boykin handy to have around

Jarrett Boykin’s teammates like to make fun of his large hands, but they love the fact he leads Virginia Tech with 16 catches. Jarrett Boykin’s teammates like to make fun of his large hands, but they love the fact he leads Virginia Tech with 16 catches. (Steve Helber/Associated Press)
By Hank Kurz Jr.
Associated Press / October 9, 2009

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BLACKSBURG, Va. - Boston College defenders will arrive at Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium tomorrow as aware of Tyrod Taylor’s running ability as anything he can do throwing the ball.

That could be good news for sophomore Jarrett Boykin, whose massive hands and playmaking ability have made him one of Taylor’s favorite targets for the fifth-ranked Hokies.

Boykin showed why on a play against Duke last weekend. He went up for a jump ball in the end zone with a smaller cornerback defending him, got his hands on the pass at about the same time, and ripped it away for his second touchdown of the season.

The catch was one of six for Boykin for 144 yards, helping Taylor throw for a career-best 327.

“If you’ve seen Jarrett’s hands, then you wouldn’t be worried,’’ Taylor said.

Ah, Boykin’s hands. Not especially long, but big to the point of almost being fat. Teammates have given Boykins’s hands some of the most nicknames on the team. Meat Hands. Meat Hooks. Boat Oars.

They are also why he goes through pairs of three-X receivers gloves at a great rate, needing a new pair each time he pulls them on and his girthy fingers shred the seams.

More than his hands, though, 6-foot-2-inch Boykin wants to be noticed for his play. He patterns his game after that of NFL standout Terrell Owens, and delights in using his size to great advantage.

“I like jump-ball situations,’’ he said. “When I go up and get it, everything in the air, I try to make the catch and make it mine. Those situations are what I love best because it can show the leaping ability and strength to take the ball away from the [defensive back].’’

So far, he leads the Hokies with 16 catches for 286 yards. Taylor may well need some of Boykin’s physicality against BC, which seems primed to keep Taylor from tucking the ball and running.

“He wants to beat you with his feet and we can’t let that happen,’’ Eagles defensive end Jim Ramella said. “That’s when he makes the huge plays that he makes.’’

Taylor certainly has the ability to make big plays running, but his performance as a passer last week against Duke highlighted the growing trust he has in his receivers.

“He trusts us. We trust him,’’ Boykin said. “He can make great passes and we put it on ourselves that wherever he puts it up, we go up and make a play and catch the ball.’’

Taylor didn’t run against Duke, and didn’t need to with receivers like Boykin and Coale making big plays. Coale caught Taylor’s first touchdown pass in the game, a 36-yarder.

“It feels really good just knowing that what we worked for all summer is starting to pay off and everyone’s just clicking,’’ said tailback Josh Oglesby, “all the way from us to the coaches.’’