Rod Boykin has always been a baseball player at heart.
Even following football games, the former Edgewood star could be found taking cuts in the batting cage.
“I was pretty much a baseball player who played football,” said Boykin, who was selected in the 12th round by the San Diego Padres during Saturday’s draft. “I was pretty good at both sports, but baseball was always my dream ever since I was little.
“I always wanted to play baseball, now that dream has come true.”
The Montgomery native didn’t even need 24 hours to decide his future. He had signed to play football at Alabama State in February, but head coach Reggie Barlow won’t see the speedster when summer training camp opens.
“I thank them for giving me the opportunity to play over there, but I am not going to go (to ASU),” said Boykin, a speedy outfielder who batted .552 with 69 hits, 44 RBIs and five home runs in the spring. “I am going straight to the Padres.”
No formal deal has been agreed upon yet, however, Boykin said San Diego has already approved to pay for college as part of his contract — which unfortunately happened to be the deal breaker for ASU.
“I knew that would be part of the deal,” Barlow said. “It’s a no brainer for him and his family. Boykin is a great kid, great talent and comes from a great family. Bobby Carr (Edgewood coach) has done a great job with Rod. I am glad we had the chance to meet, recruit and sign him.
“I love baseball so I will be following him.”
Boykin — the 358th overall selection — had committed to Tennessee Tech for baseball prior to switching to ASU football. It was the 100 percent scholarship offer and the opportunity to play baseball for the Hornets that factored into his decision to back out of his verbal.
The 18-year-old Boykin becomes the first Edgewood player drafted.
“We’re all excited for Rod,” Carr said. “We all knew this day was coming. He’s gotten better and better each year he’s played with us, and I think sky’s the limit for him. I am extremely proud and happy for him and his family.
“He was the best player, hands down, in the AISA. There’s shouldn’t be one person who would argue that.”
He’s the most recent tri-county prep player taken since Wetumpka’s Bradley Roney (18th round by Baltimore) and Jeff Davis’ D.J. Jones (22nd round by Milwaukee) were scooped up in 2011. A year earlier, former Wetumpka star Reggie Golden went in the second round to the Chicago Cubs.
Boykin’s physical maturity played a large role in his elevation as a senior, adding four inches and close to 30 pounds from his junior campaign. He hauled in 70 catches for an AISA-record 1,529 yards last fall during Edgewood’s state title football run.
“He’s always had the potential, but the biggest thing was his physical maturity,” said Carr, who coached Boykin in football and baseball. “He went from 5-10 to 6-2, and from 155 (pounds) to 180. I think that made the difference for him. Scouts knew he could run, but I think his power surprised a lot of people.”
— Reporter Tim Gayle contributed to this story