Miles Boykin has checked every goal off his list. Except one.
Providence Catholic's 6-foot-4 wide receiver has earned All-Conference and All-State accolades. He's had his name plastered across every recruiting website as one of the top high school players in the nation. He's dominated every local and national camp he's attended, improving his skills and raising his potential in the process. And last month he gave a verbal commitment to the University of Notre Dame over the likes of Michigan State, Florida, Michigan and other top programs.
Boykin has done it all as he prepares for his senior season with the Celtics. Which is why it's no longer about just him.
"No individual goals, just team goals," Boykin told CSNChicago.com. "That’s what I’m here for. I want to win state with my teammates."
It'd be easy for a player of Boykin's caliber to set personal goals. Following a junior season in which he caught 51 passes for 730 yards and 13 touchdowns (while throwing for another in a playoff victory), the four-star wideout enters 2014 as the second-best player in Illinois and top-150 player in the country, according to Rivals.com. With senior quarterback Justin Hunniford throwing him the ball and Iowa-bound tight end Nate Vejvoda balancing the field and keeping defenses honest, Boykin is in line to put up massive numbers and contend for player of the year honors in Illinois.
But entering his senior season, Boykin understood that his individual talent alone wouldn't be enough to improve the Celtics' 5-4 record and state quarterfinals appearance from a year ago. He spent his time with Core 6, specifically working on his route-running and honing his craft, but he also spent time on the weekends running routes with Hunniford and Vejvoda, learning first-year offensive coordinator Luke Senffner's playbook and allowing the Celtics' talented skill-position players to hit the ground running when practice began Monday.
"It just builds chemistry. You come out here and throw a couple balls. Sometimes you don’t even take it serious; you’re just running around, just playing catch with each other and being kids," he said. "But it definitely builds chemistry.
"I think I’m a leader by example just by what I do on the field. I never get too down, I never get too high. I just kind of play even headed and just try to do what I can do."
Boykin's lofty goals for the Celtics, if accomplished, won't be unprecedented at Providence Catholic. Winners of nine state titles since 1987, the program has pushed out dozens of collegiate players the past two decades, including a pair of eventual NFL'ers in Eric Steinbach and Pete Bercich.
Head coach Mark Coglianese, who enters his 28th season with the Celtics, has seen those players come and go, sign National Letters of Intent and play on Sundays. And yet, he believes Boykin could be the most athletic of the bunch.
"We’ve had some great players come through Providence, we’ve had our share of D-I kids and a couple kids make it to the pros," he said, "but I don’t think we’ve had an athlete — and especially at that skill position — that we have like Miles. We haven’t had a receiver like that that will go play D-I football and maybe beyond, so it’s great to have and hopefully he stays healthy and can be a big part of the offense."
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In three seasons in New Lenox, Boykin individually has checked every box. The numbers. The awards. The scholarship. As Boykin rightfully pointed out, "I'm set."
But he isn't finished. He's enthusiastic about competing in the brutal Catholic League Blue — "you can't take anything for granted" — earning a playoff berth and seeing where the Celtics land.
That journey toward a 10th state championship — dubbed "The Quest for X" — with the rest of his teammates is what drives Boykin to be great. He's already left his own personal legacy; now he's ready to bring the rest of his team along for the ride to earn their place in Celtics lore.
"This is going to be the last year I’ve got it, so I’m just going to make the most of it, just come out here and grind with my teammates," he said. "It’s just a big part of what this team wants to be: We want to leave our mark on the school like the teams of the past who won the nine state championships. "We want to get the 'X'. We want to win a championship."