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College Sports

Goss: Boykin's catch to win Citrus Bowl stirs memories

Boykin’s catch to win Citrus Bowl stirs memories

My parents were visiting my wife, Jeannine, and me the afternoon of New Year’s Day.

My dad and I naturally were watching some college football, more or less jumping back and forth between the Michigan-South Carolina and Notre Dame-LSU games.

Fortunately, we were watching the Notre Dame game wind down when Providence Catholic graduate and Irish junior Miles Boykin made his one-handed catch, then maneuvered his way into the clear and completed the game-winning 55-yard touchdown play in a 21-17 victory.

It’s always fun when you can talk about a local guy who makes good. I told my dad about what a nice kid Boykin is. He is more than a great receiver.

Later on, after my parents had returned home, I thought more about Boykin making a one-handed catch. Where had I seen or heard that before?

Then it dawned on me.

Back in the fall of 2014, when I was asked to write a couple of articles for Hub’s Arkush’s Chicago Football Magazine, one of my topics was Boykin, who was billed as one of the top receiver recruits in the Midwest and had committed to Notre Dame. He was the big name on a Providence team that would go on to win the Class 7A state championship.

I talked with Boykin and several others about him – coaches, teammates and his mom, Felicia.

“Yes, that’s it,” I thought as I remembered why Boykin and a one-handed catch seemed so familiar.

Here are the first five paragraphs of the story I wrote in October of 2014:

TEXT FROM 2014 ARTICLE

NEW LENOX – Ask Miles Boykin about his varsity football debut at Providence Catholic, and he responds he had one play as a freshman.

Humility prevented the Notre Dame-bound receiver from elaborating. Providence offensive coordinator Luke Senffner and head coach Mark Coglianese took care of that.

“His one play, we were facing Wheaton Warrenville South in the playoffs,” Senffner said. “They were one of the best teams in the state. He made a heck of a [one-handed] catch at the 1-yard line on a fade route.

“My friend Don Rousher, who is now the running backs coach with the New Orleans Saints, was a Michigan State assistant [offensive coordinator and tight ends coach]. I was with him and asked him to sit down and watch the video. He saw Miles’ catch and said, ‘That kid’s a freshman?’ Michigan State was on him from then on.”

“That one-handed catch at the 1-yard line when Miles was a freshman, that was a sign of the special kid he would be,” Coglianese said. “We thought we’d sneak him in there and they wouldn’t know who he was. They found out.”

BACK TO THE PRESENT

Boykin was a freshman at Providence during the 2011 season. But some talents he exhibited that long ago still are evident.

It was especially gratifying to see Boykin earn the Citrus Bowl MVP trophy. He has not had the type of career to date at Notre Dame that most us in this area predicted. During the regular season, he caught nine passes 151 yards and one touchdown. Against LSU, he caught three for 102 yards, capped by the 55-yard game-winner.

Last season as a sophomore, he had six receptions.

Boykin has more to play at Notre Dame and after that, who knows? After seeing what we have of him through the years, especially when he was at Providence, and what he did for the Irish in the Citrus Bowl, maybe there will be a place for him on the next level.

In one sense, it reminds me of what another tall, talented receiver from our area accomplished on the big college stage.

Coby Fleener, a Joliet Catholic graduate, was playing tight end for Stanford when the Cardinal faced Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl game following the 2010 season. All he did that night was catch 41-, 58- and 38-yard touchdown passes from Andrew Luck in the second half and finish with six receptions for 173 yards and those three scores as Stanford rolled to a 40-12 victory.

Fleener enjoyed several good seasons with the Indianapolis Colts before becoming a free agent and signing a five-year contract with the New Orleans Saints a couple of years ago.

It’s a different situation, of course. Fleener was All-America material at Stanford. Boykin has not come close to achieving that status, at least not yet. But it is cool to think that two of the best receivers to come out of our area have had huge impacts on major bowl games.

• Dick Goss can be reached at dgoss@shawmedia.com.

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