Vanderbilt's Loss of Chris Boyd Could Cost Them a Brillant Year

By Zach Virnig
Chris Boyd, SEC Football
Jim Brown-USA Today Sports

The 2013 Vanderbilt Commodores chances to boast the best record in their school’s history with a double-digit win mark in this upcoming season, may have taken a heavy hit on Friday. The team’s second leading receiver Chris Boyd was indicted by Nashville police Friday on charges of a felony stemming from Vanderbilt’s rape scandal in late June.

Vanderbilt ex-football players; Brandon BanksCorey BateyJaBorian McKenzie and junior college transfer Brandon Vandenburg, were all charged with rape of an unconscious 21-year-old woman at a Vanderbilt dorm earlier this summer. Vanderbilt dismissed all four from the team on June 29. Boyd was also suspended from the team on Friday.

Last week, police believe Boyd was assisting after the fact, meaning that the redshirt junior receiver was assisting another defendant with advice, with ideas to cover up some evidence in the case.

Boyd turned himself into authorities early Saturday morning, a day after the university suspended him from the football team. Two other men, Miles Finley and Dominick Quinzio, both friends and former high school teammates of Vandenburg, were indicted as well on charges of evidence tampering.

The scandal was the first occurrence of bad news for a Vanderbilt football program that has flourished both athletically, academically and recruiting wise in coach James Franklin’s two full years as the head of the Commodore program.

Vanderbilt was ready to help rewrite the program’s past this season with the best collection of three years in the program’s history. Boyd was a key contributor in how Vanderbilt tied a season school record of nine wins in 2012. Now he might be the focal point for why they don’t pass that total in 2013.

Boyd and fellow Commodore senior receiver Jordan Matthews were the SEC‘s top two returning receivers, coming into their season opener against Ole Miss. The duo combined for 144 receptions, 2,097 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. Matthews, surprised the masses with coming back for his final season, now his decision is all that more important.

Boyd was on his heels of becoming one of the school’s best receivers, if not the best with two years of eligibility remaining in the black and gold. This was evident from a breakout season in 2012, his 774 receiving yards was eighth best in the league. Boyd was brilliant from the get-go having at least three catches in 11 of 13 games last season, following it up with a touchdown catch in five out of the team’s last six games.

The banner question now that will be raised is whether the offense has enough juice to contend early in their schedule. The Commodores play two SEC opponents in the first three weeks of the season, Ole Miss and South Carolina.

Vanderbilt’s depth at receiver is every bit razor thin. Incoming freshman, Jordan Cunningham may be asked to do way too much in his first ever game against Ole Miss. Cunningham was the biggest chip of that 19th ranked recruiting class, according to Boyd’s initial backup Trey Wilkins did not see any game action as a sophomore, while Jonathan Krause presents experience, his ceiling is not greater than Cunningham. Tight end play has been nothing short of awful, Steven Scheu and Kris Kentera are the only two on scholarship, and both have struck out lately in practice. Three touchdowns and two years of experience might not satisfy your stomach anytime soon.

Also, breaking in a new quarterback in the SEC could figure to be harsh because of the mismatch factor in the passing game. Austyn Carta-Samuels strongly needed to have a productive Boyd, because now defenses will mainly key on Matthews. The biggest wildcard is whether now the running game can make up for Boyd and back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher, Zac Stacy. Sophomores Brian Kimbrow and Jerron Seymour, with starting running back junior Wesley Tate, have an even bigger burden on their backs than Thursday.

Vanderbilt returns 17 starters on both sides of the ball, eight on offense lone. The offense clipped 27 points or more in seven out of 13 games last season. Vanderbilt was picked fourth in the SEC East by the media in SEC Media Days.

Time will be of the essence if this team is to refurbish any hope that they had of any even better year in 2013.

Zach Virnig is a SEC Writer for Follow him on Twitter @ZacharyVirnig, “‘Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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