WR's decision coming down to the wire

Canes Time sat down with Hahnville High School (LA) head coach Lou Valdin for an update on wide receiver LaRon Byrd. Read on to find out what he had to say about the three-star pass catcher's intentions on signing day as well as where he stands amongst the list of players he has coached that went on to play in college and the NFL. You don't want to miss this.

Hahnville High School (LA) head coach Lou Valdin has been down the recruiting road before. He has coached a plethora of former Division 1 caliber football players, many of which have moved on to have professional careers.

His latest talent, wide receiver LaRon Byrd (6-foot-3, 216 pounds) will make a decision on national signing day. He is down to three schools.

"He has talked about a few different schools," Valdin said. "The last I talked to him (last week), he liked Auburn. His top three was Auburn, Tulane, and Miami, but Miami hasn't offered yet as far as I know."

Byrd has publicly stated that Miami is one of his favorites even without an offer. He approaches the week leading into signing day currently without an offer from the Hurricanes but remains hopeful that one will come before the February 6th deadline for high school seniors to submit their letters of intent.

"They need to offer first," Valdin said. "I think they like some guys ahead of him. If they commit elsewhere, they'll offer him. That is why they got on him so late."

Should the ‘Canes offer Byrd, the process will still continue amongst the three schools listed. Hahnville High School will hold their signing day festivities at 8am CST where many of their players will make their decisions known. Byrd is apart of that group.

"I think he'll look around (until signing day) and have an open mind," Valdin said. "He won't commit right away, he'll do it on signing day."

Valdin has coached a number of former standout athletes in Division 1 football as well as some that went on to the National Football League throughout his 30 year coaching career. He has spent the last nine seasons at Hahnville after leaving East St. John's High School.

Some of the premier players on his list include former LSU All-American and first round draft pick of the Washington Redskins, safety Laron Landry; his brother, safety Dawan Landry, now a starter for the Baltimore Ravens is a former standout at Georgia Tech; former pre-season All American defensive end for Georgia Tech, Greg Gathers; former Tulane wide receiver and current starting wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans, Roydell Williams, former Georgia Tech standout, wide receiver Kerry Watkins, West Virginia wide receiver and 2008 NFL Draft prospect Darius Reynaud; former Southern Mississippi defensive tackle and current NFL reserve, defensive tackle DeQuincy Scott; amongst many others including Brian Lee (QB, Southern), Nick Cannon (QB, Tulane), and Craig Turner (former Division 1AA All-American as a kick returner at Southern Illinois).

How does Valdin evaluate Byrd as a player?

"He is a big, tall kid who can run fast and he has good hands," Valdin said. "He has the potential to play at the next level."

Valdin believes his potential is endless. However, he will need to improve on his game during his time in college for him to maximize it.

"He can be great, he can be fabulous," Valdin said. "He is 6-foot-4, runs a 4.4 and has good hands, but he has to get a little tougher and get off the line against bigger cornerbacks. People can beat him up at the line. He has time to do it, and the sky is the limit in terms of potential."

When he moves on to the college game, Byrd will need to adjust his game according to Valdin. In high school, Byrd found himself to often be a match up problem for opposing teams without much work being put into being dominant. At the collegiate level, Valdin believes his work ethic will be tested as he'll play against some of the nation's best week in and week out on his own team and throughout the country.

"He was so much bigger in high school than most of the guys, so he didn't have to put a lot of effort into being good," Valdin said. "I hope he has that drive. Some of those places like Miami and Auburn, they will sign good players every year. It isn't like high school or a Conference USA school in that when you get your starting job, you'll have it. You go to Miami or Auburn and every year you are going to compete for your job because they sign good players every year."

How does Byrd compare to some of the standout players at the wide receiver position Valdin has coached in the past? The results might shock you.

"He isn't as good as some of the players I've coached in the past at wide receiver like Kerry Watkins, Roydell Williams, and Darius Reynaud. Those guys are the best wide receivers I've coached. Byrd is good, but those guys are better at this point."

Valdin has given some words to Byrd on what steps to take through the recruiting process. It was a lesson that Valdin stresses to his players as he has seen the recruiting game being played before, on both sides of the coin; both by coaches and players.

"He really doesn't tell us what he is thinking all of the time, but this is what I told him, ‘don't commit right away on a visit,' because they put pressure on you to do so," Valdin said. "He should come home, think about it, and then commit. Call them up and make it official. So many kids commit on a visit, commit, and still take their trips and then commit elsewhere."

What are some of the other bits of advice does Byrd's coach have for him?

"He should take everything into consideration," Valdin said. "Who is your position coach? What does the contract of the head coach look like? You realize this is the place you will be living for three, four, five years, so places like the dorm room and where you are going to eat at very important as well."

What ultimately does Valdin think is best for Byrd and his interests?

"He wants to go somewhere and play right away, if that is the case, I think he should go to Tulane, but I don't know what these others schools are telling him about that," Valdin said.

Byrd is scheduled to take his official visit to Miami the weekend of February 1st.

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