BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech wide receiver Jarrett Boykin never has been the kind of player to thump his chest, like one of his heroes, Terrell Owens, or choreograph elaborate end zone celebrations like Chad Ochocinco.
It's just not part of Boykin's nature.
During his 2007 senior season at Butler High in Matthews, N.C., he caught a long pass and glided into the end zone for a touchdown, at least 15 yards ahead of the nearest defender from Vance High.
As he crossed the goal line, Boykin pointed one finger skyward. It was a simple gesture in the midst of a 47-0 victory intended, as he put it, to honor faith and his late father, who was slain by a gunshot as a result of a dispute with a woman.
The gesture was terribly misinterpreted. It inspired an excessive celebration penalty, and a one-game suspension for the ultra-quiet Boykin.
"Somehow the ref said I flicked the people off," said Boykin, who was an infant when his father was killed. "I know I didn't do that for a fact. I mean, really, I was just going into the end zone … pointing up to God, and as far as my dad because he passed away when I was young.
"I always wonder like, if anything could've been different, if he was here on Earth — a lot of stuff I do, I dedicate to him. Just trying to make sure he's watching over me."
To see Boykin operate on the field for Virginia Tech, which hosts Duke (1-5, 0-3) on Saturday, even something as innocent as pointing to the heavens to honor his father might seem ostentatious. Though he has a penchant for making acrobatic catches of passes from quarterback Tyrod Taylor, it's stunning to see more than a high-five from Boykin.
"I'm just a quiet, keep-to-myself kind of guy," said Boykin, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior. "I don't like attention too much. I don't really like all the highlights to be on me."
He may be understated in presentation, but his career achievements are anything but modest. He's in the process of stalking school receiving records.
He has 99 career receptions, putting him just 27 behind former Hokie Ernest Wilford ('00-03) for top honor. Boykin also has 1,745 yards receiving, only 527 behind all-time leader Ricky Scales (1972-74).
With a big conclusion to the season, Boykin could catch Wilford for the school record for most receptions in a single season (55 in '03), Andre Davis for most receiving yards in a season (962 in '99) and Antonio Freeman and Davis for most touchdown receptions in a season (nine in '93 and '99, respectively).
In seven games, Boykin has 29 catches for 469 yards and five touchdowns, including eight catches in each of the last two games.
"He's dependable," wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman said. "He's shown week in and week out that he can be dependable and trusted and go up and make plays. It shows with Tyrod making the throws he's made to him at times that (Taylor) knows he's going to be where he's supposed to be and come down with a big grab."
Boykin apparently has somewhat of a flare for the dramatic reception in practice as well, so much so that Sherman has had to remind him to take it easy to make sure he gets to game day unscathed.
"He's made some unbelievable catches in practice, and the one thing that you can say about Jarrett is that he's just a competitor," Virginia Tech receiver Danny Coale said. "If the ball is in the air, Jarrett wants it. I've seen that time in and time out in practice. He just has a knack for making plays in games and in practice."
There obviously aren't many coverages or defensive looks that Boykin can't handle. As for the increasing attention that comes with his pursuit of Virginia Tech's receiving records, that's a different story.
"I guess with that comes the publicity," Boykin said. "I tell (Virginia Tech associate director for athletic communications Bryan Johnston) all the time when he says 'you've got interviews after practice.' I tell him 'c'mon, man, you know I don't like doing interviews.' I just don't like the spotlight. I mean, everybody else can have it. It's just not me. I just like to do my part."