A Mountain Hawk today, a Raider tomorrow.
Lehigh University's Billy Boyko '13 is headed to the NFL.
The all-Patriot League linebacker, mechanical engineering graduate and drag racing enthusiast signed with the Oakland Raiders as a rookie free agent, continuing the dream of a career playing on the professional gridiron.
"I started playing football when I was 5 years old," said Boyko. "Football always took precedence. I knew I always wanted to have racing as a hobby, but playing professional football was always a dream of mine. I’m at a loss for words now that I actually have an opportunity to live a dream and fulfill it."
A product of the Lehigh Valley, the Northampton area native was a constant throughout his four years with Lehigh football, playing in 41 games, including 10 starts as a senior, leading the team with 104 tackles.
"Billy was the best defensive player in our league," said Lehigh football head coach Andy Coen. "He was MVP of our football team this year because of what he did."
However, he didn't pick Lehigh for football alone.
“I [also] chose to attend Lehigh because of its outstanding engineering program," Boyko said. "To be a Lehigh student-athlete is a great experience because you can compete on the field and in the classroom."
Boyko's experience with Lehigh could give him the edge at the inside linebacker position, where he is expected to compete as a Raider. Oakland plays a 3-4 defensive scheme, similar to the Mountain Hawks, and with the team light on veteran depth a the linebacker position, Boyko may find himself on the roster come September.
Regardless of the outcome, Boyko credits hard work and perseverance in getting him to where he is today.
"I couldn't feel more blessed to be a part of the Oakland Raiders," Boyko explained. "I'm a blue collar type of guy out of Northampton and came to Lehigh with a great opportunity to become a mechanical engineer. I take pride in the fact that nothing was handed to me and feel very accomplished to have earned everything I have up to this point ... The education I received at Lehigh will go a long way in whatever happens on or off the field because the experience I had at Lehigh was life-changing. No matter what happens, I'll always have my Lehigh education to propel me forward in life."