Column: The Tim Boyle era

UConn quarterback Tim Boyle is seen between plays during the Huskies' game against Houston at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. Boyle is set to transfer from the football program, with Eastern Kentucky University as a possible destination. (Bailey Wright/The Daily Campus)

Even before Tim Boyle set foot onto UConn’s campus, there were already loads of lofty expectations for him. Universally regarded as the best in-state quarterback to come to UConn since Shelton’s Dan Orlovsky did so more than a decade ago, Boyle was seen as a player who could help lead the Huskies back to the success they enjoyed just a few years prior.

Starring at Xavier High School in Middletown, Connecticut, Boyle capped an outstanding high school career with 2,500 passing yards and 24 touchdowns en route to his third high school state championship.

Boyle received offers from schools such as Florida and Houston before committing to rival Boston College. Paul Pasqualoni, the UConn football head coach at the time, eventually convinced Boyle to change his mind and stay in-state for one of his few recruiting victories.

Boyle is gone from UConn now, announcing this past weekend that he will transfer and play out his senior season at Eastern Kentucky, an FCS school. After three tumultuous years, the journey for one of the program’s most prized recruits is officially over, and while Boyle struggled in his own right to live up to those expectations, the program as a whole didn’t help him much either.

Three coaches have manned the sidelines at Rentschler Field while Boyle has suited up for the Huskies, and Boyle has had his redshirt burned by two of them. As a freshman, Boyle came into camp as the No. 3 quarterback behind Chandler Whitmer and Casey Cochran. Four games later, Boyle’s redshirt was burned and was under center for the first game of T.J. Weist’s interim coaching stint, a 13-10 loss to South Florida.

Boyle would start three more games and appear in five total in his first year, throwing for 621 total yards with no touchdowns and eight interceptions. While Boyle’s numbers didn’t exactly jump off the page, it obvious that he possessed talent based on his flashes of brilliance, like his 310-yard performance against Cincinnati, where he displayed his elite arm strength and prototypical size.

Heading into his sophomore year and the first year under Bob Diaco, Boyle once again entered the season as the No. 3 and had his redshirt burned as Cochran retired after sustaining yet another concussion. With the starting quarterback position more uncertain than ever, Boyle once again struggled under center, playing in nine games and starting the final three, finishing the season with 335 yards on 82 attempts, one touchdown and 3 interceptions.

In his third and final season with the team, Boyle lost the starting job to North Carolina State transfer Bryant Shirreffs, and attempted a career-low 60 passes despite appearing in a career-high 11 games. Despite the limited playing time, Boyle came through when the Huskies needed him most, taking over for Shirreffs after he left with a concussion in UConn’s win over No. 13 Houston, finishing the night with 110 passing yards and kept the offense running well enough to hold on and become bowl eligible.

Two burned redshirts, 14 games and just seven starts in two seasons. Not the best way to use two years of eligibility on a player with as much potential as Boyle. Few things stunt development as much as change and inconsistency from those in charge.

Boyle finished his final season at UConn with 281 yards and two interceptions, giving him 13 picks and just one touchdown in his UConn career. His first interception of the season came on the now infamous fake field goal attempt on the road against No. 22 Missouri with 45 seconds left to play. Boyle’s ball was forced into double coverage and picked off by Anthony Sherrils to seal the 9-6 win for the Tigers.

This season was, in a way, a microcosm of Boyle’s entire career at UConn. While the interception wasn’t entirely his fault, Boyle routinely struggled this season, best exemplified by his 12-20 passing performance for 121 yards and an interception in the Huskies’ 27-3 loss to Temple to end the regular season.

However, Boyle showed flashes of the prototypical NFL quarterback potential he has in the Houston win, and while it certainly wasn’t a masterful performance, he showed that he can be a successful quarterback. The same goes for his performance against Cincinnati as a freshman. There isn’t a doubt that the talent is there, but there is doubt as to whether he can play like that every snap.

With Boyle now at Eastern Kentucky, it will mark his fourth head coach in four years. While a lack of continuity has certainly had its toll on him at UConn, Boyle will almost certainly benefit from his time at EKU.

Physically, there are few quarterbacks more gifted than this 6-foot-4-inch quarterback with a big arm. While he has been plagued with accuracy and interception issues in his first three seasons, he should be able to have more success and refine his skills at the FCS level just on his talent alone.

Regarding his future, a spot on an NFL roster is highly unlikely, but still a possibility. A big season at EKU could lead to him getting signed as an undrafted free agent, or maybe even sneak in to one of the last few rounds if the numbers are good enough.

A good season combined with Boyle’s size and arm strength will have plenty of teams willing to take a chance on him, and the track record for FCS quarterbacks in the NFL is there. Joe Flacco, Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo are just some of the recent FCS players that have gone to secure jobs in the NFL.

But for now, Boyle is focused on his final season of collegiate football. Transfers are a common sight in the collegiate era nowadays, and even more so this season for UConn. Change certainly hurt him in his time at UConn, but change like this isn’t always a bad thing, and both Boyle and UConn are better off parting ways.

With Shirreffs under center, Diaco and the Huskies are primed for a breakout season in the American Athletic Conference, a role many UConn fans likely envisioned Boyle having just a few short years ago.


Dan Madigan is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.madigan@uconn.edu. He tweets @dmad1433