The distance between Las Vegas and Columbus is approximately 2,000 miles, and a cynic would say Nevada-Las Vegas is coming an awfully long way to pick up a $1.3 million paycheck to take a beating from Ohio State.
UNLV senior receiver Devonte Boyd, though, calls this an opportunity. The Rebels were a late addition to Ohio State’s schedule when North Carolina backed out of a home-and-home contract.
“It definitely puts us on the big stage and gives me an opportunity to showcase the hard work that I’ve put in and all the hard work my teammates have put in,” he said. “Personally, it doesn’t matter how many people are there. I want to make plays anywhere and anytime I play.”
History shows that playing teams from Power 5 conferences definitely agrees with Boyd. The Rebels (1-1) face the Buckeyes (2-1) Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Last season, Boyd caught five passes for 84 yards in a 42-21 loss to UCLA before 63,712 at the Rose Bowl. In 2015, he caught three passes for 65 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown, in a 28-7 loss to Michigan before 108,683 at Michigan Stadium.
Against Arizona as a freshman, he caught six passes for 102 yards, including one for 52 yards, in a 58-13 loss.
Coming into the season, only two active receivers in the nation had more receiving yards than Boyd’s 2,630 and only three had more catches than his 164. He is on the Biletnikoff Award watch list, and Lindy’s rates him the seventh-best NFL prospect in the Mountain West Conference.
“Let’s just say that I’ve had great coaching and I’ve been put in great situations to make plays,” he said. “They trust me to make plays.”
Through two games, a 43-40 loss to Howard and 44-16 victory over Idaho, Boyd has six catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns. He caught 65 passes as a freshman, 54 as a sophomore and 45 last season, when he missed the final 2½ games because of a broken arm.
The difference for Boyd this season is that he is working with 6-foot-5, 225-pound dual-threat quarterback Armani Rogers. Rogers, a redshirt freshman, was a four-star recruit out of Culver City, California.
“My job is still the same,” Boyd said. “The receiving coach says it doesn’t matter who throws the ball, to just put it on the line. Armani can do a lot of things — run, throw. I’ve seen him do everything. For me to have success, a lot of it has to do with our scheme and preparing for the games.”
UNLV saw Boyd, 6-1 and 185 pounds, as a must-have recruit four years ago. He was ranked the No. 3 prospect in Nevada and No. 58 receiver in the nation. Plus, he is from nearby Basic High School in Henderson, Nevada.
What the coaches didn’t know was that Boyd would evolve into an all-academic Mountain West student. He is majoring in interdisciplinary studies.
“Academics weren’t always important to me — I used to be a football player only,” he said. “I decided to put everything I had into school my sophomore year. It’s hard playing football and going to school, but it teaches you work ethic. I have the same attitude going into academics as the game. I’m trying to be the best.”