MAHAL OF FAMER
The Clemson quarterback is an early Heisman favorite because it's never too early to anoint an early Heisman favorite. Now all he needs is a nickname worthy of his candidacy
DAN PATRICK:Do you have a nickname?
TAJH BOYD: I don't. But Tajh is unique in itself.
DP:How about Taj Mahal?
TB: Coach [Dabo] Swinney calls me the Taj Mahal of Football.
DP:Do you have to go undefeated to win the Heisman?
TB: Not necessarily. The perception is that it's the best player on the best team. The past two Heisman winners, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel, did lose games. But they won big games.
DP:How close were you to going to the NFL after last season?
TB: I told myself I was leaving after the [Chick-fil-A Bowl win over] LSU. I set some standards and guidelines—if I did this during the LSU game, [I'd go pro]. I was leaving after the game, and then put some more thought into it and decided to come back to school.
DP:Would you have been a first-round pick?
TB: I believe I would have been.
DP:What feedback did you get before the draft from the NFL?
TB: My paperwork didn't say first-round pick. It said somewhere between 2 and 3.
DP:Florida State's EJ Manuel was a first-round pick. Did you think you were better than him?
TB: I thought that it was pretty close.
DP:You can say you were better.
TB: I think I'm one of the better quarterbacks in the country.
DP:Who is the best QB in college football?
TB: I think Teddy [Bridgewater] has the best feel for the game.
DP:Is Johnny Manziel better than you?
TB: I think that I'm one of the better quarterbacks in the country.
DP:C'mon, you can do better than that.
TB:[Laughs.] I don't think that anybody's better than me.
DP:What is going to stand out if I go to a Clemson game?
TB: The passion. You hear about passionate fan bases in college football, but I don't think anyone compares to what we do around here.
DP:What about Alabama, Georgia, Auburn and all the other passionate programs around the nation?
TB: People who have been in other programs and come here say this is far better.
DP:Can I touch the famous Howard's Rock before the game like the players do?
TB: We need to suit you up and give you a chance to run down the hill [with the team].
DP:I don't think orange is my color.
TB: I didn't think it was my color. It grows on you.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray commented on the challenges facing Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel. "It's hard going places in Georgia without having to sign something or take a picture," Murray told me. "I don't even want to imagine how hard it is for him going anywhere in the country.... One little slip and it's all over the Internet." ... NBC NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth was upset that Jets coach Rex Ryan was ripped for going to see his son at the end of preseason. "This entire league needs to see their family more," Collinsworth told me. "I would institute a rule that no office could open before 7 a.m. and they all close at 7 p.m." ... Michigan coach Brady Hoke didn't agree with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly that the schools were engaged in just a regional rivalry. "Everyone's got an opinion," Hoke said. "Some people think I'm skinny."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
STREETER LECKA/GETTY IMAGES (BOYD)
SCOTT CUNNINGHAM/GETTY IMAGES (MURRAY)
SCOTT HALLERAN/GETTY IMAGES (COLLINSWORTH)
LEON HALIP/GETTY IMAGES (HOKE)