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Kris Boyd’s selection by Minnesota highlights his remarkable success story

Notice the smile? It’s because he isn’t supposed to be here.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

When the call finally came, the normally ebullient Kris Boyd’s first reaction was nonchalant enough to make his friends laugh.

On the third day of the 2019 NFL Draft, Boyd was throwing the football in the backyard when his phone rang early in the seventh round. The general manager of the Minnesota Vikings was on the other end, so Boyd rushed inside to watch as the Vikings made it official — he was selected with the 217th overall pick, reuniting him with his former teammate and high school friend, Holton Hill.

“As soon as I hung up, the first thing I said was, ‘I’m going to be with Hollywood (Hill),”’ Boyd said in a statement released by Texas. “Those were the first words that came out of my mouth. It was crazy. I actually watch their games because Hollywood’s playing, and I’m just ready.”

For Boyd and Hill, the selection brought them full circle — more than four years ago, the two highly-touted cornerbacks from different cities committed to the Longhorns on the same day in late January, then played together for nearly three seasons in Austin. Now they’ll play together again.

With that realization, Boyd finally broke out his trademark smile.

“I was just happy,” Boyd said. “I just couldn’t say anything. I was just filled with joy, I couldn’t even explain it. I was just all smiles and couldn’t believe it, but at the same time I could believe it because I knew it was going to happen, it was my dream and goal. I was just excited that 22 years finally paid off.”

Despite Boyd’s prodigious natural talent, his journey wasn’t easy. He’s a survivor who overcame the tough circumstances of his upbringing. He lost his father at an early age and then his grandmother who helped raise him in his hometown of Gilmer while his mother struggled with drug addiction.

“I appreciate all the little things,” Boyd said last year. “Everyone always asks me why I’ve got a smile on my face. It’s because I’m not supposed to be here.”

Instead of succumbing to self pity or the temptations that derail so many promising careers, Boyd became a top-100 prospect in the 2015 recruiting class and a US Army All-American at Gilmer. He held offers from some of the top programs in the country before choosing Texas.

In Austin, Boyd suffered from inconsistent play at times, but started 33 games and emerged as an All-Big 12 selection as a senior. Over four seasons, totaled 191 tackles (141 solo), 6.5 tackles for loss, and one sack, along with 40 passes defended in his career, four interceptions, four forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.

He improved significantly under the tutelage of cornerbacks coach Jason Washington after the arrival of head coach Tom Herman on the Forty Acres to finish fifth on the team in tackles as a junior and senior.

“I feel really prepared,” Boyd said. “I learned a lot at UT, starting with my freshman year all the way to now, and this will be kind of like that all over again, but I know the proper steps to take now that I’m on my way to the NFL.”

Following in the footsteps of numerous other Longhorns defensive backs selected in the NFL Draft, including at least one in six of the last 10 drafts, Boyd even shared insight into the leadership abilities he developed at Texas.

“I’m just happy and it’s a blessing,” he said. “I just reached out to the young guys, too, like Kobe Boyce. I texted him and said it doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you get your name called, that’s the goal. You want to get in the NFL, and once you get there, it’s still the same game. Do your job and be happy and enjoy the moment, because you only get it once. It’s all a blessing, and I’m just ready to get there and get back to football.”

Boyd’s now back to football — he signed his rookie contract over the weekend as he went through Minnesota’s three-day rookie minicamp. As he went through it, he surely did so with that typical smile on his face and didn’t take it for granted, because he wasn’t supposed to be there.