Receivers provide huge boost for Pitt


Tyler Boyd spent his first collegiate bye weekend at nearby Clairton High School watching his alma mater's game against Brentwood. He was taken aback by the reaction his presence drew.

"I hadn't been in the city for quite a while, and everybody just loved to see me," Boyd said. "They thought I was some famous person, so it was real different around there."

Such is life in the fast lane for Pitt's freshman sensation. Boyd has made his presence felt in the ACC through his first four career games and has provided a boost to a Panthers receiving corps that has been as potent as any in the conference thus far.

In Boyd (106.2) and Devin Street (111.2), Pitt is one of just three teams nationally with two receivers averaging better than 100 yards per game. Boyd (5.8) and Street (5.2) rank fifth and sixth in the ACC in receptions per game, the only duo among the league's top 10 pass-catchers. They are doing this with a quarterback, Tom Savage, who is at his third school in four years and who had not taken a collegiate snap since his true sophomore year, three years ago at Rutgers.

Three straight wins after a Labor Day home rout from Florida State have the Panthers feeling good in Year 1 of their new ACC home, and they will carry that confidence with them into Saturday's matchup against new Coastal Division foe No. 24 Virginia Tech.

Street was the only real known commodity in Pitt's passing game coming into this fall, and the redshirt senior was open about his goals this offseason. Street said he wanted to surpass the 1,000-yard mark, win the ACC title and finish atop the national rankings in receiving. Street enters Blacksburg this weekend just six catches shy of the school career record of 178, held by Latef Grim.

Just one problem, albeit a welcomed one for an offense that was lacking in the big-play department last season: Boyd might out-do Street statistically, though Street right now has the edge in receiving yards, 445-425.

"We definitely saw some confidence, which was great to see for a freshman to have such confidence, and not confidence where it was cocky or anything," Street said of Boyd's on-campus arrival. "He was confident in his ability to go out there and play and compete at a high level. As a person, he's a great kid. He listens all the time. He's very detailed and he just works his tail off each day. I can't say enough about him. He's going to beat all the records I'm trying to reach. I think he'll be breaking them soon."

Boyd ranks eighth nationally in all-purpose yards per game (175.25) as the former prep running back has added 98 rushing yards and a score on seven carries while averaging 22.2 yards on eight kick returns.

"I think even coming into this season when we saw him in camp, he exceeded our expectations there," said Savage, who is fourth in the ACC in both passing yards per game (263) and touchdown tosses (10). "… I think with how he's performing now, it's getting fun to watch."

Chryst wanted to make sure to not put too much on Boyd's plate when the ESPN 300 prospect arrived on campus, saying that a newcomer's body language will often clue coaches in on what can and cannot be absorbed so early.

Boyd showed no such signs.

"He didn't ever seem to hit that learning-curve-wall in camp, and we were fortunate in that regard," Chryst said.

Part of that, of course, can be attributed to Street, who, like many of his teammates, finally got to experience the sort of comfort level that comes with having the same staff in charge for more than one season, a luxury this program had not been afforded since 2010.

And the duo has benefitted from having a fifth-year senior throwing them the ball this season.

"We have a lot of similarities, a lot of interests that are the same, a lot alike, and I think we just hit it off on a friendship level, and that's what makes it easy to work on the field and off the field," Street said of Savage. "Just watching film together, and just being comfortable with me. The wide receivers and quarterback have to in sync at all times to be successful, and I think that's what we're working toward.

"I think we're definitely close to being on-point with everything. I think we still have some work to do. But I can't say enough about Tom, it's just tremendous to work with him. He's a humble guy, great arm, great intangibles and it's just been a blessing to have him for my senior year."