Growing up in a tough area of New Jersey, Cory Boyd had few positive role models in his life.
But he made it out of the gang-infested streets in Camden, N.J., went on to a successful career at South Carolina and played professional football.
Now, it’s Boyd’s turn to be the role model he lacked and teach kids some football along the way. He is getting that chance this season as running backs coach at Blythewood High.
“Coming from inner city, I was looking to get out and be the role model people can follow. … not having that guidance that much is where my passion comes from,” Boyd said. “I always knew I was going to get into coaching. I bring a lot of knowledge to the game.
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“I still have a big kid’s heart. I try to get down to their level. This new generation, you’ve got to get on their level, and they can trust what you are. Building the trust with the kid is big.”
Boyd’s passion was on display after Blythewood’s scrimmage against York. He tried to get through to the Bengals backs about running with aggression and being hard-nosed, something fans loved when he played at South Carolina.
“The young guys have to know we have to play physical, be the hammer and not the nail and finish our runs. There is no dancing in our backfields,” Boyd said. “I try to give these kids the same kind of mentality I had when I was coming up as a young athlete. They are getting the concept, and I think they are getting it with a little more practice under our belts.”
Boyd said he hasn’t shown his players any YouTube clips of when he was at USC or playing professional football. His hit against a safety from Virginia has more than 80,000 views.
At USC, Boyd had his ups and downs playing for Lou Holtz and then Steve Spurrier. Spurrier suspended Boyd a year but he returned and led the Gamecocks in rushing in his final two years. He became only the second USC player to finish with 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in his career.
Boyd was a seventh-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and spent two years in the NFL with the Bucs and Denver Broncos. He said playing in the NFL was a culture shock for him, and he found out how expendable you could be.
Boyd said he didn’t take good enough care of his body during those years, something he regrets. It wasn’t until he was playing in the Canadian Football League that things clicked for him. He played from 2010-12 in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts and had a pair of 1,000-yard seasons. He led the CFL in yards from scrimmage in 2010 with 1,722 and broke or matched several club records.
After his playing days ended, Boyd returned to South Carolina and started working at Kelly Middle School in Columbia. He deals with in-school suspension and was the school’s head football coach the past two years.
Boyd also started CB3 Athletics, which helps players with football skills, pro mentorship and academic achievement. In the spring, new Blythewood coach Brian Smith gave Boyd a call to join his staff and coach running backs.
“We knew he was available and wanted a guy on our staff to guide our running back group,” Smith said. “He brings a lot of intensity and knows the game well.”
Boyd is grateful for the chance to coach high school football.
“I feel like a baby all over again. I hope this next chapter of my life will help me see the man God has created me to be,” Boyd said.