Following recruiting can sometimes can be a futile task. Much of the time those who commit, sign on the dotted line come NSD and everything goes off without a hitch. For other commits, the fans understand that the chances of hanging onto them on signing day seems slim and will likely never make it to campus. Fans understand that it’s a matter of time before the next best school tells them how great they are, woos them and flips their commitment.
There is occassionaly that one recruit that isn’t the highest rated, or the most touted with the most stars next to their name, yet something about them brings about a fan fervor and creates a contagious buzz about said commit. For many of #CARDNATION DE Mike Boykin was that recruit of the 2016 football class. TheCrunchZone.com recently tracked down Mike Boykin to get an update on his progress at his JUCO school and how he’s been spending time counting down the days before he makes it to campus. Before we get into any of that, we’re going to “Tarantino it” for a second and take it back to where it all started for Boykin and UofL to inform those who don’t follow recruiting and/or are the casual Card Fan just who Mike Boykin is.
In HS, Boykin was certainly no slouch. Mike was the type of promising recruit that coaches love to build a program around as he was rated the 48th best SDE nationally by 247sports in 2016. He earned All-State and All-American honors out of Georgia and was an Atlanta-Journal Constitution selection finishing his Senior season at Carrolton High with 34 tackles, 7 sacks and 18 TFL.
Still Boykin wasn’t nationally ranked Top 250, high 4* or 5* propspect with all the national accolades garnering nominations to some of the most prestigious and decorated All-Star Games like the Army All American Bowl, or The Under Armor Game. None of that mattered for #CARDNATION and its fans as the buzz persisted and for great reason. It was easy for the fans to get excited about him. Here you had a prospect reigning out of the Peach State who played well against solid competition equipped with tremendous measurables. At 6’6 245lbs he had undeniable god given talents and athleticism to go along with an advanced physique coming out of high school. With the nation and everyone at that time having recent and clear, imprinted memories of Jadeveon Clowney on the brain, fair or not, #CARDNATION felt they had a MAN-CHILD of their own in Mike Boykin.
Fans would turn on highlights of his tape and he naturally flashed on your screen. Boykin not only showed as being an exceptional talent in creating havoc in the run game, but was a problem and disruption in the passing game too. Shooting gaps, getting leverage and getting upfield in a hurry with a first step you don’t see too often for a guy with his size, Louisville had a real gem in the fold. Louisville wasn’t the only school that took notice of the dual sport athlete and his talents either. UofL DL Coach L.D. Scott and the Louisville staff had to work extremely hard to beat out some serious competition with the likes of Bama, FSU, Clemson, LSU, tOSU, Auburn and many other perennial powers to earn Boykin’s commitment. Everything seemed to be going in UofL’s favor as Boykin would commit to UofL and sign his NLI in February of ’16. #CARDNATION and its fans couldn’t wait to get their first look of the promising, physical phenom. June came though and there was no word of Boykin on campus. The Cardinal faithful began to grow worrisome as the Summer drew on with no sign of Boykin enrolled in school. Come August, unfortunate, unforeseen circumstances kept him from enrolling at UofL and he was forced to attend Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Distraught, #CARDNATION thought they may had seen the last of Michael Boykin.
Fast forward almost a year later to when he was suppose to arrive on campus for his Freshman Sesason, it was May 2017 and Boykin the myth was now on campus once again for a recruiting visit as a JUCO transfer. “Louisville has been loyal through the whole process. They have stuck beside me” Boykin explained talking about his relationship with Louisville and it’s coaching staff. Boykin resurfaced on Louisville’s radar as part of their future plans, as he matured further and gotten even BIGGER AND STRONGER! The buzz amongst the Cardinal faithful began to swirl about again as maybe there was still a chance yet he could wear the Red ‘N Black. He arrived on campus this past May for a visit at an outstanding 6’6 1/2 and 285lbs. Boykin had grown in mass by 40lbs and it showed. Feeling he could have a positive impact and help the Cardinal football program going forward, the staff reaffirmed their commitment to Mike. A few short days later back at MGCCC, the feeling was mutual as he shut down his recruitment and again recommitted to Bobby and the UofL Staff.
“It feels great to have a group of coaches standing behind you and all of them check on me from time to time. I stuck with Louisville cause I know they’re on the come up and they’re going to be good. They’ve stuck beside me and I know I have a shot at the league when I go back to Louisville.” Until then, he must finish out the remainder of his JUCO term.
The JUCO process for Boykin hasn’t been the best one and has taken its toll on him, not so much the physical grind that is synonymous with football, but mentally and emotionally. On the field, Boykin had a productive Freshman Year at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College(MGCCC). In 9 games, he accounted for 18 tackles, 13 TFL, 24 QB hurries and 1 sack. With one JUCO season remaining and to the disdain of some in Perkinston, MS, he’ll been spending his final season of JUCO on the sidelines before arriving at UofL. “Yes sir, Summer has been hectic. I’m redshirting, working out individually, improving my technique, studying film, working on agility to become the best I can be come January. I kind of just do my own thing right now. I’m 6’6 ½, 285lbs and I run a 4.81 laser 40 time. I’m ready to move on and get to Louisville.”
If you’re keeping track, that would make Boykin a R-So with 3yrs of eligibility remaining for his career at Louisville which is a welcomed development as #CARDNATION would potentially gain an extra year to watch him in action at PJCS.
With his journey just to get to Louisville thus far, you’d think there’d be plenty of motivational factors for Boykin, but there’s been just one constant reminder needed; just one inspiration to push Boykin harder every day from the last and keep him keenly focused to prepare, train and be the very best he can be. The unquestionable love for his mother. Not fame, money, or any of the other superficial factors some aspire to have, but the love for the woman who raised him with unconditionally love. “The only motivation I need is my mother. I’ve become a better man and player (because of JUCO), but I’ve seen the struggle and I know how it feels to have absolutely nothing.” Coming from a difficult situation, Boykin yearns for the opportunity to better his mother’s everyday way of life and remove her from her current situation. When you watch him on the field, his passion and love for her are prevalent and some have described Boykin’s play as almost angry. “I play knowing I got to get my mom out of the struggle. If you grew up where I grew up, you’d play angry too!”
It’s that passion and angry style of play that has gotten him here and it will need to be on full display in Boykin’s first game he suits up for the Cards to take on perennial CFP contender Alabama to kick off the 2018 season in Orlando, FL. He’s part of an already very special and talented Defensive Line Class of #Birdgang18 that will feature a lot of talent, size, speed and athleticism. Currently featuring 6 DL who measure in at 6’5, 250lbs, 6’5, 325lbs, 6’6 ½, 285lbs, 6’6, 295lbs, 6’5, 340lbs and 6’3, 235lbs; with what will be returning from on the current team, it’s easy to be optimistic no matter the opponent.
What does Boykin think about the outlook of the DLine going up against Bama to start next season? “I don’t think we are going to be blocked up front. They’re (UofL coaches) expecting me to come in and start right away and be a dominant player. I’m definitely trying to go out there that first game and leave a statement. In my eyes, they’re (Bama) just any other team. I’m trying to go out there and leave a statement and show that they can be beat. I want to dominate that game cause I know it can generate a lil buzz and I just thank God.”
Come January the myth and hype that has become Mike Boykin will be on Louisville’s campus and ready to suit up in a UofL uniform. He’s been a fan favorite recruit/commit for #CARDNATION for what seems longer than the 2yrs it has already been and soon the time will come for #CARDNATION and Boykin both to finally embrace each other when all had seemed lost and would never come to fruition. It’s been a long journey for Mike, but you get the sense he understands without that journey, he wouldn’t be the player or person he’s become. For the fans, the wait has only made the anticipation and buzz around Boykin that much greater. It’s the Cardinal Fans who Boykin has a special message for. “I’m ready to get to Louisville. I want to thank the Cards fans for being the most loyal fans in the world. I’m a good person and have a big heart. Now it’s just about me to go out there and compete.”
Mike Boykin will be eligible for Spring Practice and begin training and competing for a starting DL spot Spring Semester of 2018. He encourages all of #CARDNATION to follow him and his progress on Twitter @1_goat46
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