- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd knows exactly what he wants in 2013 -- to be the No. 1 quarterback in America, on the No. 1 team in America.
Bold talk? Yes. But nobody would expect anything less from the confident Tigers playmaker, who decided to return for his senior year because he understands what both he and his teammates have at stake this season.
"I did a lot of good things last year, but now it’s time to take my game to a whole other level," Boyd told ESPN.com after spring practice opened Wednesday. "It’s going to be a process. Spring and summer, it’s going to be encouraging and exciting. I’m just ready to kick this thing off."
A whole other level? Boyd already was the ACC Player of the Year in 2012, a first-team All-American as selected by the coaches, and goes into the season with 51 Clemson records. How exactly does he take his game to the next level?
"AP All-American, every category -- no ifs, ands or buts about it," Boyd said. "I mean, there’s a lot of reasons I came back. A lot of it was for the team. I feel like we have the opportunity to make some history but it’s going to take a lot of work. Individually, I want to be the best quarterback in the country. I don’t want to be the No. 2, 3, 4. I want to be the No. 1 quarterback. It’s going to take a lot of work. We want to be the No. 1 team and we just have to continue to grind and take it from there."
And how exactly will he become the No. 1 quarterback in America, when a guy like Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel returns to Texas A&M?
"You can only control what you can control, but with the coaching that I have here, and the type of team we have, I feel like it’s reachable," Boyd said. "It’s in sight. In my game, whatever questions people have, I want to be able to answer those. I can’t grow anymore. I’m not going to be 6-4. But I have to be able to make every throw, recognize every coverage, control the game, make smart decisions, limit turnovers. Just take it from there. If all those things are in place and all those things are in the equation, I can put myself in that situation."
At the top of his improvement to-do list is becoming a better game manager, and cutting down on the mistakes. Last season, Boyd threw 13 interceptions. That is not an exorbitant number, but Boyd says he can do better.
When he went through the draft advisory process, the No. 1 piece of advice he received was to continue to work on his decision making. Boyd already ranked No. 5 in the nation last season in passing efficiency, but it is clear he is aiming for perfection now that he is in Year 3 under offensive coordinator Chad Morris.
"I just want to able to be a playmaker, be a difference maker out there on the field," Boyd said. "There were certain games we threw this amount of touchdowns, but on any level when you feel like you’re ready to go to the next level, you feel more comfortable out there. You feel like the game slows down, it’s coming to the point where you can see everything. It got to that point sometimes last season. And it has to be to the point where I can see a lot of things before they happen this season, that’s where it needs to build more. To be able to switch out of plays at any given time, just the little things. The little things have to be the difference."
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2dJared Shanker and Andrea Adelson