VIAN — As a T-ball player, Rob Boyd was rewarded with a cheeseburger every time he hit a home run.
The biggest kid on the team, Boyd hit a lot of home runs — so many that the cheeseburger became more than just a prize for a homer. It became the name everyone on the team knew him by.
Twelve years later, the name has evolved to a simpler version and instead of hitting home runs, “Cheese” is busy drilling defensive linemen into the ground for the Vian High School football team.
And maybe all of those cheeseburgers have helped him along the way. Boyd is 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, having turned into one of the state's most highly recruited offensive linemen, ranking No. 3 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 recruiting rankings.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State pursued him, and national programs knew about him, too. A Southern Cal assistant flew in to see him practice in the spring.
But Boyd settled on Tulsa, enjoying the idea of being close to home.
“Tulsa is very much a family atmosphere,” he said. “They treated me like no other school did. I felt like I was a priority to them.”
Head coach Bill Blankenship and assistant Denver Johnson knew they were going against the BCS schools in pursuit of Boyd, which might have led to their surprised reaction when he verbally committed in March.
“They looked at me like they thought I was stupid,” Boyd said with a laugh. “They were like, ‘Are you sure?'
“But I knew that's where I wanted to be. They're awesome people, and I can't wait to go play for them.”
Family is important to Boyd as well, and being an hour from home played a part as well.
Boyd knows to play in Tulsa's offensive system, he'll have to work hard on his pass blocking.
“At Vian, we run the ball about 70 or 80 percent of the time,” he said. “We're not hiding it. That's just how we play ball here.
“So I definitely want to improve on my pass blocking. And I want to get stronger. You can always improve your strength, and it will only help you.”
Vian coach Brandon Taylor knew he had a special player three years ago, when Boyd showed up as a freshman.
“He's started for us since he came in as a freshman,” the coach said. “He's one of those guys you hate to see go.
“He has a dominant presence on the field, he can dominate the line of scrimmage. He's a great competitor with a great work ethic. He's gonna graduate either No. 1 or No. 2 in his class.
“He takes pride in everything he does, whether it's on the football field or in the classroom. It's one of the qualities that separates him from other guys.”
Boyd's appears to play football with pure aggression, but to him, it's just business as usual.
“I have a job to do, and that job is to put the kid across from me on his back,” he said. “People say I play with a mean streak, but it's really just the opposite.
“I have a smile on my face while I'm doing it.”
The Oklahoman's Super 30
Name: Rob Boyd
Position: Offensive lineman
Committed to: Tulsa on March 31