Published Sat, Oct 20, 2012 2:05 pm Dateline
If you’re an Ohio Bobcats Football fan you’ve likely heard the name Ryan Boykin quite a few times over the past few weeks, but besides the fact that he wears number 20 on Saturdays, much isn’t known about the humble well-spoken Georgia boy.
“I'll probably get a lot of crap for this but I like Gucci Mane,” he says while laughing when asked about his favorite kind of music. “Up here they're like ‘he's horrible,' but I grew up listening to him.”
Boykin, a Redshirt-Junior majoring in Health Sciences Information, grew up in Woodstock Georgia, a town about 25 minutes north of Atlanta. In Woodstock Boykin grew up a fan of the local music scene and the local professional sports teams: the Braves, Falcons and Hawks. But when it came to high school sports it was all about football.
“Yeah he was a little tyrant,” he laughs when talking about one of his football coach’s policy on playing other sports. “He wouldn't let us do anything else.”
As a sophomore at Woodstock High, Boykin started until he broke his collarbone in the third game.
“(I) didn't play anymore (that season) after that. Then I transferred to Etowah High School.”
As a junior at Etowah, Boykin once again earned a starting job, but suffered a high ankle sprain halfway through the season that resulted in him missing the rest of the year. Fully healthy his senior year, Boykin broke out for nearly 1800 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns.
“Recruiting really took off after that,” Boykin said.
Despite his impressive numbers the explosive back was overlooked by many of the local schools.
“I had a couple other offers, a couple MAC offers and what not. But really Ohio was one of the closest schools to home,” he said with a toothy grin that he often shows.
Ultimately the Georgia boy decided to go with Ohio University over the others in part because he liked what the school and Head Coach Frank Solich had to offer him. Now in his fourth year with the ‘Cats—he red-shirted his freshman season—Boykin is finally getting an opportunity to show the talent he flashed back home in Georgia and starting to garner some attention for it.
He’s become an integral part of a ‘Cats running game that currently ranks 14th in the nation and has helped earn the team a spot in the AP College Football Top 25 for the first time since 1968 at No. 25.
“It doesn't get much better than this,” he beamed when asked about the ranking. “I'm super proud; I mean this is history in the making.”
Boykin has helped keep the ‘Cats alive in recent weeks, making the ranking a possibility. He scored two touchdowns in the win vs. Buffalo, which helped Ohio remain undefeated. He added another touchdown along with nearly 100 yards rushing in a win against Akron on homecoming.
Still Boykin isn’t letting the personal success get in the way of his main goals.
“For the team, I just want to come out here and win. Bottom line is winning,” he says.
It’s that team first mentality that has allowed Boykin to fit in so well while playing behind the running back with the second-most rushing yards in the nation, Beau Blankenship.
However, it’s not always about football for this fun-loving Georgia boy.
“I like video games…I love movies,” he says when talking about his hobbies.
Some of his favorites include the 1980’s cult classic The Goonies and the Nintendo 64 game Super Smash Bros.
“It doesn't get better then the classics, man,” he beams.
A family man at heart and an avid hunter and fisher, Boykin enjoys spending time with friends and family and enjoying the outdoors, but recently has picked up a new hobby: tweeting!
“I tried to hold out as long as possible,” he said about his newly created Twitter account, @RyanBoykin20. “My roommate last year actually made me one…and I made him delete it.”
Yet he recently had a change of heart and decided to jump feet first into the tweeting craze, creating his own account on October 9th.
“Finally got a Twitter. #betterlatethannever,” his first tweet read.
Still despite his playful attitude and carefree nature, Boykin understands the importance of this season for a Bobcats program that is on the rise. National exposure is at an all-time high for the team, they were even recently featured in a Sports Illustrated article. Buzz is growing, despite frighteningly close wins in recent weeks.
“We just need to play our style of football which is smart physical football,” he said. “You know, come out here and execute no mental mistakes and hopefully get the W.”
Boykin will look to continue to help the team achieve those goals on the ground. The long-stridden back is hungry to keep on winning and keep giving football fans across the nation an intro course into just who Ryan Boykin is with every carry he gets.
In the meantime he’ll keep on playing old video games, tweeting and listening to Gucci Mane, despite what others in Athens may think about his “taste” in music, because when he takes off the shoulder pads and helmet, Ryan Boykin is really just like the rest of us.