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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Notre Dame wide receiver Miles Boykin, playing against Stanford in September, brings size and athleticism to the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

Saturday, March 02, 2019 1:00 am

WR Boykin embraces combine

Former Irish star rated 2nd-round prospect for NFL

Kyle Rowland | For The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The next time Miles Boykin fails to make a reception will be the first time since Oct. 28, 2017.

The Notre Dame wide receiver who's bound for the NFL finished his career in South Bend with at least one catch in 17 consecutive games. His status as the Irish's leading receiver in 2018 – 59 receptions, 872 yards and eight touchdowns – has made the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Boykin an intriguing NFL prospect.

“Boykin's size, length and athleticism offers exciting potential as an outside receiver with mismatch potential,” NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein said. “But he will have to learn how to counter press, improve his routes and become more competitive when the ball is in the air. His size won't matter if he doesn't learn to impose it on others. If that happens, he'll become an eventual starter with a high ceiling.”

Boykin received a second-round grade from the NFL's draft advisory board.

Aside from the presidential campaign, the NFL scouting combine is the most scrutinized job interview in America. Players are asked invasive questions, required to complete a variety of exercises and weighed in their underwear.

A nervous tick would be understandable when your career is at stake, or at least affected by the week's results. Boykin's approach is far different, choosing instead to embrace the unorthodox nature of the combine.

“It's tough, but at the same time it's cool,” he said. “There's only 300-and-something of us here. We're the best 300-and-something in the country at football. That's not taken lightly at all by anybody. Not much sleep, but you're meeting with teams and making connections. I think it's awesome.”

Perspective is not lost on Boykin, whose older brother, George, suffered a serious head injury playing football in 2011. The incident, which took place during a high school practice, ended George's career.

Miles wears No. 81 to honor his brother, and he doesn't shy away from discussing the dangers of football. But he also isn't one to demonize the game.

“It's tough,” Boykin said. “We put ourselves in harm's way – I understand that. We signed up to play this sport. But without this sport, there's a lot of places we wouldn't be. I wouldn't be sitting here in front of you today if it wasn't for this sport. I wouldn't have gone to Notre Dame if it wasn't for this sport. So I'm extremely thankful.”

George has recovered completely and is completing his master's degree in aviation with the goal of becoming a commercial pilot. Miles has suffered two concussions – one playing football and one playing basketball. Instead of giving him concerns, he said it makes him more thankful, instilling a realization that playing football is precious.

“This is the wrong game to play if you're afraid,” Boykin said.

The next chapter in his career arrives in April with the NFL draft. Between now and then, Boykin will count his blessings and continue pushing his way to new heights.

“What I've been trying to preach is I'm a smart player first and foremost,” Boykin said. “I know my coverages. I'm going to bring character and passion that I play with.”