Standing 5-foot-5, Matthew Boykin can be overlooked as a member of the Havelock football team, especially on team with four-star college recruit Derrell Scott.
And that’s just how he likes it.
“It’s good for me and it’s good for the team,” Boykin said. “If we need a big play, and if teams are keying on Derrell and them, I can make that big play.”
Boykin runs the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, and his elusiveness is a nightmare in the open field for opposing defenses. He’s the fastest player Havelock has had in many years, and the quickest Jim Bob Bryant has ever coached.
“I think a lot of people put too much emphasis on size,” said Bryant, in his sixth year as Rams’ head football coach. “If you are a football player, you are a football player. Matthew Boykin is a football player.
“With the ball in his hands, he is as dangerous as anyone in the state. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone as an outside receiver.”
Boykin spent the last two seasons on the junior varsity team, where he totaled nearly 1,500 yards in receptions and 1,500 yards rushing, and added 11 punt returns for touchdowns.
“That’s what I am best at. I am not just a receiver,” Boykin said. “I make my plays by running the ball, returning kicks and punts. That’s me.”
After waiting for his time, the diminutive playmaker is showing he belongs on the big stage. Through two varsity games, Boykin has 73 rushing yards, 121 receiving yards and three scores. He galloped 49 yards for the Rams’ first touchdown in their 31-13 victory at New Bern last week.
“He could have stepped in and played a lot for us last year on varsity, but for different circumstances, we left him on JV,” Bryant said. “He is an incredible talent, has gotten a lot stronger and more physically dominating. I’m glad we’ve got him.”
Boykin has a goal of playing Division I college football, and is now beginning to get that attention. While most programs may see his height as a disadvantage, Boykin is not bothered by it.
“It doesn’t bother me. I play like I am as big as everybody else,” he said. “Five-foot-five, whatever I am, I play like I am six-foot.
“I think I can get some D-I scholarships. I just have to keep my grades up and do what I have to do on the field.”
Off the field, Bryant said Boykin is a “great and funny kid.” On the field, Boykin doesn’t miss a practice or team workout.
“After his freshman and sophomore year, he became totally focused on football,” said Bryant. “He steps in, comes to practice every day with a smile on his face and does a great job. He is a great added dimension to the all-stars we already have.”
Boykin doesn’t have any special goals or expectations for himself. He is determined to help Havelock win a third-consecutive state championship.
“I’m motivated because I could have had two rings by now,” Boykin said. “I want my ring. I am chasing my ring.
“I want to win and go to states. I don’t really have anything individually. I just want to help the team.”
Havelock (2-0) hosts Jones Senior on Friday.