Notre Dame wide receiver Miles Boykin made an incredible one-handed catch and then broke through LSU tacklers to help the Irish defeat the Tigers 21-17 in the Citrus Bowl. You can watch video of the catch above.
Another angle shows Boykin somehow reaching out with one hand to snag the pass from quarterback Ian Book and then pull it into his body, all while keeping the presence of mind to dodge the diving LSU tackler and break up field for the 55-yard touchdown.
The Irish trailed at the time 17-14 with just over 1:30 left in the game. After the touchdown, the Notre Dame defense stepped up to stop LSU and seal the bowl victory for coach Brian Kelly and his squad.
Boykin is a 6-4 receiver from Illinois in his junior season at Notre Dame. Boykin had just nine catches for 151 yards and a touchdown before his breakout performance against LSU. Including the game-winning catch, Boykin had three grabs for 102 yards. All three of his catches came from junior quarterback Ian Book, who played the entire second half ahead of usual Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Boykin was named the Citrus Bowl’s Most Valuable Player after the game.
Boykin, who went to Providence Catholic High School, has been a little used player during his career with the Irish. He caught six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown during his sophomore season in 2016, while appearing in all 12 of Notre Dame’s games. He did not see the field during his redshirt freshman season in 2015.
Coming out of high school, Boykin was ranked as the 151st player in the country by Rivals.com and the 16th best wide receiver, and the 161st best player in the nation by Scout and 19th best wide receiver, according to Notre Dame’s website.
Boykin wasn’t a fan of the Irish growing up in Illinois.
“I hated Notre Dame,” Boykin told Irish Insider in 2015, after signing with the Irish. “I didn’t like them because everybody else loved them. But I was a Michigan State fan, too.”
But after seeing a game in person, his feelings changed.
“I hated Notre Dame until I took my first visit, and then it was like, ‘OK, I actually like this school,'” Boykin told Irish Insider. “I got down there and I could just really see myself playing there.”
Boykin was also a standout basketball player in high school and had offers to play hoops at DePaul, Illinois-Chicago and Western Michigan, according to Irish Insider. His head coach in high school, Mark Coglianese probably wasn’t shocked by his former player’s amazing catch.
“Playing basketball as much as he did growing up, he has a way of getting his body in the right position to go up and get the ball,” Coglianese told Irish Insider. “At the high school level, there weren’t too many kids who could match up with him.”
Boykin’s former teammates and coaches saw something special in him heading into the 2016 season, but he has been overshadowed by other players.
“(He’s a) really good kid,” former teammate Chris Brown told NBC Sports in 2016. “When it’s his time he’s gonna be really good. Really big kid who’s yet to know how to use his real strength yet and that’s his size. Being able to go and box out. We saw a part of it in some of our preparation. He’s gonna be really good … He’s really quick for his size. When he’s able to use his strength to clubbing off the line just boxing guys out, he’s gonna be a problem.”
Former wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock told NBC Sports at the time, “He needs to get more aggressive to the football at times. He’s got great hands. He’s gotta trust them and he’s gotta go snatch the football out like he’s capable of doing on a consistent basis. When we get him there he’ll be a big part of what we do.”
Boykin is expected to return for a final season at Notre Dame in 2018, and with the possible catch of the year already in his back pocket, that breakout could finally come.