California offers Hatari Byrd versatility

Fresno (Calif.) Central safety Hatari Byrd is in constant contact with the Golden Bears weekly.

LAS VEGAS – Don't be fooled by the knit cap with "safety" stitched across the front. Fresno (Calif.) Central's Hatari Byrd can play anywhere in the defensive backfield, as demonstrated by playing cornerback at the New Level Athletics Elite 7-on-7 at UNLV.

The physically imposing 6-foot-1 Byrd has the combination of athletic ability and cover skills necessary given the proliferation of spread offenses and pass-catching tight ends, one of the reasons he has emerged as one of the top prospects on the West Coast.

California is so intrigued by his talents they gave Byrd a unique offer during the Bears' Junior Day last month.

"They want me to play corner, but I can play safety too. They said I could play both," Byrd said.

"There are very big receivers nowadays and I can physically match up."

The interest is mutual, as Byrd said Cal ranks among his top five schools. "I try to contact them once or twice a week," he added.

Secondary coach Ashley Ambrose is Byrd's main contact on the staff. Byrd described him as "pretty cool" and "a chill coach."

Byrd models his game after Sean Taylor, Ed Reed and Brian Dawkins, trying to match his range with a physical disposition. He credits his work with the Fresno-based DB Guru 7-on-7 team with make his game more well rounded.

The Bears have had a constant presence in the Central Valley, most notably recently with sophomore running back Brendan Bigelow, who attended the same high school as Byrd. The two reconnected during Byrd's recent trip to Berkeley.

"When I went for the Junior Day, we was chilling with each other and talking about football," Byrd said. "I had a pretty good time."

Cal is also recruiting Byrd's high school and 7-on-7 teammate, cornerback L.J. Moore. Byrd said who the Bears bring in would be an important factor in choosing a school.

"Education is always first. I (also) look at who else they have coming in the class," Byrd said.

Byrd plans to take some unofficial visits during the summer, but has not decided on any officials yet or a timetable as to when he will commit.

Said Byrd: "As of right now, I really don't know. I'm just going to leave that open right now." Top Stories