Byrd: Much More than a Speed Guy

A big time riser in the football recruiting class of 2011 is the speedy Damiere Byrd of Erial (NJ) Timber Creek Regional. Though he may be a star on the track, Byrd is readily earning his stripes on the football field as big time programs are lining up to offer him scholarships. The Florida Gators are picking up the heat on Byrd and an offer seems imminent, not a surprise to his head coach.

Damiere Byrd is already highly thought of and a big time four-star prospect on Offers this week from Purdue and North Carolina State are just some of the many he already has from prominent schools around the nation. The speed may catch the eyes of these coaches, but it is what they see when they keep watching him that pushes them to offer this dynamic playmaker.

"He's competitive," Coach Rob Hinson said late Tuesday evening. "He's always been labeled as just a fast kid, but over the years he has developed into a special football player. He really loves football and has a really high football I.Q. He works very hard in track and in the weight room and is always trying to get better."

As a junior, Damiere Byrd caught 38 passes for 605 yards and four touchdowns. He also carried the ball 78 times for 685 yards and eight more scores, adding two punt return touchdowns as well. Byrd was named first-team All-Conference and Group III and second-team All South-Jersey. He also had 685 yards rushing with eight touchdowns on the ground. Byrd had two scores off punt returns.

However, he has such natural tools in the game of football, teams are coming at him in a variety of directions as to where he may play at the college level.

"It's all up to each school where they want to play him, but I personally would love to see him get the ball in a lot of different ways," Hinson said. "He can play in the slot, where he can do different things being a receiving threat or a running threat. I would like to see him play offense in college, but that isn't my decision."

Hinson admits that he will also utilize Byrd on defense this fall. No doubt he has tools that just don't come around very often.

"He has played primarily offense, but this year he will be a two way starter," Hinson said. "He played a lot of situational stuff at cornerback (last year) and when a team would have some success in the passing game or in long yard situations, we would put him in and eliminate the teams best receiving threat. I would like to see him start on offense, but if they want to move him that would be their prerogative."

On offense, Hinson can see Byrd being a devastating player in the slot position.

"He would be a slot guy because he has a pretty good understanding of the passing game," Hinson said. "People want to get the ball in his hands in space and let him run around a lot. Inside he will be lined up with a safety or linebacker and will definitely run away from those guys."

Time is running out for Hinson to get as much as he can out of Byrd before he runs off to a college career. Just three seasons ago, it didn't take long for Hinson to know he had something special.

"He's been here for four years at Timber Creek," Hinson said. "As a freshman he was labeled as a fast kid coming up through the midget ranks. He scored a lot of touchdowns and was exciting and everyone knew about him. But everyone thought it was just because of his speed.

"As a freshman we saw him do subtle things that showed he was kind of advanced as a football player and more than just a speed guy. In his sophomore year he went all conference and that kind of stuff because we started getting him the ball. He showed just enough flashes to show us he was going to be the real deal. Each year he has progressed."

And now big time programs are stopping by the school to take a look at Byrd and the offers are coming in fast.

"He has about 15 or 16 offers right now," Hinson said. "Purdue offered him today, NC State faxed over an offer. I met the coaches from State and said hello to those guys."

He also got a visit from a program that has been playing for national championships lately. The Florida Gators sent assistant Stan Drayton over to Timber Creek to see what Byrd had to offer and evidently the Gators have decided to turn up the heat a little bit on a prospect they were already recruiting pretty hard.

"I spoke with the Florida coaches and they wanted to eyeball him and let him know they were up to see him and talked to me about him," Hinson said. "All indications are they are probably going to offer. We don't like to talk about an offer until we get it, so we don't consider it an offer yet."

The Gators are discussing where Byrd might end up if he were to eventually sign. Hinson knows a talent like Byrd's needs to get on the field and understands that team's may not want to just push him ion one direction.

"They said he is a three way player, offense, defense, and special teams," Hinson said of the Gators' take on Byrd. "The biggest thing is when you get an outstanding player like that you don't want to just pigeon hole him into one position. You just want to get the best football players you can get and figure it out."

A Florida offer would mean a lot to Byrd according to Hinson, but he said his star will likely take some time to continue through the process.

"He is going to take a look at everything out there," Hinson said. "Obviously programs like Florida are significant and are kind of the top of the heap right now. A Florida offer would be very significant. But, he will let the process go out...but Florida is a special school because of where they are in the national eye.

According to Hinson, Byrd and his family will visit the Florida campus later this month. By then, he may have an offer in hand and will want to look a little harder at the Gator program. His choices grow daily and one thing is for certain, he will have lots of tremendous opportunities to choose from when he does make a final decision.

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