BLACKSBURG — Receivers are divas. They change their names, prance in the end zone and crave attention. They're high-strung, selfish and temperamental.
Or so it seems in an era of T.O., Ochocinco and Randy Moss.
"He's a guy who's just right for this program," Hokies coach Frank Beamer said during Saturday's preseason media festivities at Lane Stadium. "He works hard, doesn't say much, but he's productive. … That's the kind we like hanging around here."
Boykin's been hanging around for four years, and barring injury he'll exit as Tech's career leader in catches and receiving yards. But when he claims those records, expect little or no reaction.
This 6-foot-2 senior is an unassuming, team-first, business-like guy with a small forward's vertical leap and a flair for art. He catches the ball in traffic, gains extra yards afterward, and by season's end, he'll have every opportunity to join former Hokies receivers such as Eddie Royal and Josh Morgan as NFL starters.
"Go shake his hand," offensive line coach Curt Newsome suggested. "Bear claws."
"I've never seen hands like that," receivers coach Kevin Sherman said, "and I tell him all the time, 'You should never drop a pass.'"
Boykin hasn't dropped many. His 123 career receptions rank second in program history to Ernest Wilford's 126, and his 2,123 yards trail only Antonio Freeman's 2,207 and Ricky Scales' 2,272.
Translation: Boykin needs four catches and 150 yards to own both marks.
"I wasn't even aware of the receiving records until (recently)," Boykin said. "It's one of my goals, but at the end of the day, I still have to play football."
A graduate of Butler High in Charlotte, N.C., Boykin chose Tech over North Carolina State, South Carolina, Illinois and Wake Forest. He played as a true freshman, catching 30 passes for 451 yards, and immediately established 1,000 yards in a season — the school record is Andre Davis' 962 — as a goal.
Boykin has fallen shy with 835 as a sophomore and 847 as a junior, but there are two very good reasons.
First, he's part of a deep receiving corps that includes Danny Coale Marcus Davis, D.J. Coles and Dyrell Roberts. Second, the Hokies' offense will never be confused for Hawaii's, Houston's or Texas Tech's — last season was the first in 15 that they averaged more than 200 yards passing per game.
"I'm still striving … for (1,000)," Boykin said. "We'll see if I get the job done."
Boykin got the job done best last season with a 39-yard catch-and-run for the winning touchdown in the waning moments at N.C. State, and with a 19-yard scoring reception in the ACC championship game victory over Florida State.
Big moments. No diva antics.
"I don't like the attention too much," Boykin said, "because when people get caught up in the attention, that's when they start getting big-headed, start lacking focus and think everything's going to come easy. I've always had to work hard for everything.
"I look at myself as if I suck and I (have) something to prove."
Boykin is reserved in position meetings, preferring to, in Sherman's words, listen, learn and watch. He's discovered a knack for drawing, and his proudest sketch is of his 4-year-old cousin.
"I'm better looking at something and then drawing it," Boykin said. "I can't really freehand."
He's much more spontaneous on the field, able to improvise and adjust routes, invaluable assets with mobile quarterbacks such as Tyrod Taylor and Logan Thomas. The Hokies are 31-10 and have won two ACC titles since he arrived, but Boykin wants much more.
"I was kind of spoiled coming in my freshman year winning an Orange Bowl and an ACC championship," he said. "Us being Virginia Tech, and I consider us one of the elite programs, I feel we're supposed to win those things.
"Not being cocky or anything, but we've got to take it up to the next level and win the national championship."
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/sports/teeltime and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP