Former Asheville High kicker Liam Boyd wants to join Clemson Football

Liam Boyd has always had a strong leg. But before 2020, he never thought of using it on the soccer field.

When COVID-19 cut short his association football season, Boyd, then a junior at Asheville High, decided to give kicking a try. He met former East Carolina kicker Anthony Brenner at Memorial Stadium.

He sent every field goal attempt within 50 yards through the posts and every kickoff into the end zone.

“That told me I had a future, that I could play in college,” Boyd said.

Two years later, Boyd is scheduled to begin his college career at Clemson in the fall.

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“To see that you can really go out of nowhere with no knowledge, no understanding, no skills,” Brenner said. “To be able to play for one of the best college programs that has ever existed two years later. What an educational moment for young athletes.”

Clemson had been Boyd’s dream school ever since he attended camp there during his freshman year. And as a college football career became more realistic, he told Brenner joining the Tigers was his goal. Brenner told him that to reach that level he had to put all his energy into football.

This forced the first of Boyd’s difficult decisions on his journey. Before his senior year at Asheville, he quit soccer — the sport he had played since he was three years old.

“It was really hard for me to quit football,” he said. “But in the end it was definitely the right decision.”

In his senior year with the Cougars, Boyd went 8-for-10 on field goal attempts, including a 50-yarder. But the pandemic has shrunk an already tight recruiting window. Following his senior season, Boyd had just a year of kicking experience and few opportunities to appear in front of college coaches.

So he put off college another year for a postgraduate season at IMG Academy in Florida.

“The fact that he has put his heart and soul into it over the past two years speaks volumes for him and how committed he is to his future,” said Brenner.

In March, exactly two years to the month after he started pedaling, Boyd committed to Clemson as his preferred walk-on.

For much of the past year, Boyd has trained with Dan Orner, a Charlotte-based coach who has coached dozens of kickers on major Division I and NFL programs.

“He’s improved his game tremendously because he knows how well the boys are coming,” Orner said. “He was very mature about that process and he wasn’t like, ‘Hey, I got this opportunity, I took it.’ He realizes he is walking uphill and has a big journey ahead of him.”

Both Orner and Brenner said one trait sets Boyd apart from other athletes: drive.

Brenner, who coached football at Carolina Day and has coached several elite kickers, said he’s only seen a handful of athletes show Boyd’s dedication.

“He has more leg talent and is better than any kicker I’ve ever seen,” said Brenner. “Not only coached, but also there as a table football colleague.”

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