Andy Boyd is as much a part of Toledo as Jeep, Tony Packo s and the zoo.
He has the same drive and determination that for decades made this town tick.
Boyd is as tough as the gears that lift the Cherry Street bridge, and as reliable as the sauce on the tasty chicken wings at Fricker s.
He played quarterback at Whitmer High School, walked on at the University of Toledo in 1997 and earned a scholarship the following spring.
A month into his freshman season, Boyd became the Rockets starting free safety.
He held onto that job for four years and served as a senior co-captain in 2001, when UT won the Mid-American Conference championship.
Boyd made a boatload of big plays and bone-jarring hits, but he saved his best for last.
On the final snap of his career, he broke up a fourth-down pass intended for Cincinnati s Ray Jackson in the end zone with 50 seconds left, sealing the Rockets 23-16 win over the Bearcats in the Motor City Bowl.
I couldn t have picked a better way to go out, Boyd said.
Boyd worked as a non-paid student assistant at UT in 2002 while finishing up his degree in environmental science. He also doubled as a substitute teacher in the Washington Local School District, earning $85 a day.
I did all the grunt work my first year, Boyd said. I was an assistant to the assistant, so to speak.
Boyd spent the last two years working with the Rockets defense as a graduate assistant and earned his master s degree in recreation and leisure studies.
This summer, UT coach Tom Amstutz, himself a Whitmer graduate, rewarded Boyd for his hard work by promoting him to the full-time position of outside linebackers coach.
I m a lucky guy, said Boyd, who turns 27 later this month. Coach has taken care of me for a long time.
Amstutz followed a similar path from Whitmer to UT in the early 1970s, and Matt Eberflus, now the defensive coordinator under Gary Pinkel at Missouri, followed suit in the late 1980s.
Amstutz and Eberflus both recruited Boyd as Toledo assistants.
However, the Rockets did not offer Boyd a scholarship, nor did any other Division I school.
The Rockets were my team growing up, he said. I watched them play a lot of games as a kid, and I wanted to play for them.
Amstutz did, too.
He enrolled at UT in 1973 but didn t earn a spot on the football team until his sophomore year. He was a two-year letterman and stayed on as a student assistant while completing his physical education degree.
Coach Chuck Stobart added Amstutz to his staff in 1978, assigning him to work with the offensive tackles and tight ends.
Andy s situation reminds me a lot of mine, Amstutz said. He is a Whitmer grad, he played football here and he did a great job as a graduate assistant. I m excited to have him as a full-time assistant.
Boyd, whose linebackers made plenty of noise in last week s 62-14 demolition of Western Illinois, has a much tougher assignment on his hands now than he ever did as a player.
Yet Boyd wouldn t swap jobs with anyone.
This hometown boy is having way too much fun.