Local teammates taking gridiron talents to HBCU

Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 12:06 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - “I always wanted to go to an HBCU”

Running back James Boyd of South Bend Riley made his official commitment this spring to join historically black Kentucky State University. Joining him on his journey will be his high school quarterback, Elijah Taylor, who he affectionately calls ET.

“First thing I heard about Kentucky (State) I was calling ET, ‘hey brother we got this, we gotta do meetings, talk to coaches.’ We were each other’s biggest supporters.” says Boyd.

“You normally don’t hear about two individuals going to the same school from the same class,” says Riley athletic director Seabe Gavin. “So I was kind of surprised but excited.”

The two developed a bond playing alongside each other, especially during their senior season. And when K-S-U came calling for both of them, they decided it was the move for them.

“He was my running back so he was my right hand man,” says Taylor. “He protected me so I really trusted him.”

Boyd agrees.

“I talked to ET every day -- sometimes cried together after games. We had to be each other’s right hand man and just work through it.”

These kind of decisions are never completely easy... and that was no different for Boyd.

“It was very hard for me because of my grandmother,” Boyd admits after a brief pause. “She’s always been a leading role model in my life and she was always a motivator. Every time she was in the hospital or anything else -- when she was battling cancer I was right by her side. She had my back through football too.

“After I had a sit-down with her and she told me that it was okay for me to go and live my dreams, it just drove me to want to go anywhere and take my talents any place because my granny believed in me.”

As for Taylor... he’s also inspired by having a close family member in his corner.

“My brother (Darien) went here and played here so he’s always been somebody I looked up to. He was a captain here, so everything he’s done, I’ve always looked up to him and wanted to be him or be better than him so he’s always been a positive role model in my life.”

Now -- Elijah is showing that he’s able to be a positive presence in the lives of others.

“Elijah is that calm and gentle spirit,” says Riley principal Shawn Henderson. “He’s very warming to people. If you feel out of place in a room, he makes you feel like you’re in place.

“& James is that individual that’s going to stretch you. He’s going to challenge you to do everything that you need to do. He’s going to push you to the limit of being the best that you can be.”

Despite their chemistry, the quarterback admits that taking their talents to the same school wasn’t always the plan.

“Going on to play college football together -- it’s not something we ever though of or thought was going to happen,” he admits. “But having someone personal that I know will be a very impactful thing for me and for him.”

“The things that we try to do around here is help our kids understand to do the right thing,” says Gavin. “They pay people good money to find talent. If you do the right thing, you’ll have the opportunity to go wherever you want to go.”

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