Aaron Boyd was supposed to be a drop-in replacement for Steve Johnson when he came to Kentucky in 2008.
First of all, and I know I probably don't have to say this, but don't get your hopes up. Aaron Boyd, a former Rivals 4-star recruit from which much has been expected but almost nothing has been delivered, has finally appeared on Kentucky's depth chart as the 5th or 6th wide receiver.
Boyd has been little more than a highly-touted tackling dummy in 3 years at UK, and during that time has managed to take the high expectation most had of him coming in and grind them completely smooth. Boyd has caught all of six passes during his time with the Wildcats, and Joker Phillips & Co. have mostly kept him buried on the bench so deep that he has to wear an atmospheric diving suit to avoid the bends.
Back during the first practice of camp, Boyd made a diving, 50-yard catch and played well enough to earn praise from Phillips, probably for the first time in a Kentucky uniform. Boyd is a prototypical college wide receiver, tall at 6'4" and a solid 215 pounds, but to date he has been so ineffective and his attitude so unimpressive that you could be forgiven for thinking he had quit the team, or been excused. Instead, he has been hanging on in the no-man's land populated by disappointing players, and although we occasionally get a question about whatever happened to him, mostly he has been a forgotten man.
But maybe, just maybe, Boyd is ready to finally contribute to the team as a senior. As the old saying goes, "Better late than never."
Don't get me wrong -- there isn't any hint coming out of practice that Boyd is challenging the starters for their position. At this point, he seems to be merely playing well enough to wind up on the 3-deep wide receiver depth chart, but that position, as a senior, is hardly something to inspire the Big Blue Faithful to do cartwheels of joy. And it isn't as if Randy Sanders and Phillips have an unending stream of praise for Boyd's work ethic in media interviews -- so far, he's gotten exactly one positive mention from the coaching staff, but that's one more than he's had in at least the last two years.
Coming in to Kentucky, Boyd was touted as a replacement for Keenan Burton or Steve Johnson, a guy who would help elevate Kentucky even higher than those guys did. In his freshman year he caught 5 passes for 46 yards, far from impressive, but at least, cause for hope. Last year, Boyd caught one pass for 5 yards and played briefly in 3 games. and other than the predictable "whither Aaron Boyd?" question from the media, he has mostly been too far away from getting into games to show up on the radar.
Most of the talk about Boyd has been about his attitude, and the suggestions have been that Boyd has been all about himself and not about the team. Rich Brooks redshirted Boyd in 2009 to try to give him a chance to mature, but any positive impact from that off season has been hard to discern.
This is Boyd's last chance to make an impact for Kentucky, and he should have a chance to do it. I'm not holding my breath, but the talent is supposed to be there. Perhaps this year it will emerge enough for Boyd's final year at Kentucky to be productive, if not what we expected and hoped for.