A year later and Byrd is entering his redshirt junior season without having played a meaningful snap in nearly three seasons. He recently spoke with Pack Pride about the progress he has made this fall.
How are you feeling right now physically?
It feels real good. I'm finally healthy. Just to be back with my teammates and running around and making plays, it feels real good.
Preparing for a team like Tennessee has been a dream come true. I've been waiting on this moment for what seems like forever now.
Talk about the last couple of years that you have went through.
Well, it started when I tore the [ACL] in my right knee when I was freshman. I went through rehab and I was back to where I wanted to be. I was moving around and feeling good. I had a great spring last year and going into the fall I was a projected starter with [David] Amerson. Then in the summer I was playing seven-on-sevens and tore my ACL again, this time the left one.
The first thing that I thought about was why is this happening again to me, but I already knew what to expect and how to attack my injury. I was ready to attack it full on and come back... try to get another year under my belt.
How tough was it to not give up, or quit? Having to try and return from back-to-back knee injuries had to be difficult.
I had a couple of teammates who said they don't know how I did it. They would have probably gave up, but for me, football is bigger than anything.
I've loved this game since I was three years old and watching the Miami Dolphins on the couch with my dad. He always told me to never quit. My mom and uncle said don't give up on anything you love. I love this game. I'll never quit it.
You've been working at boundary corner, which is a position in State's scheme that demands a physical player.
When I first came in, I was a physical defensive back, that was my specialty. I'm getting my legs back up under me and catching up, but I still play the same way.
I'm at the boundary corner with Dontae [Johnson] right now. He's having a great camp as the starting boundary corner. I'm just working hard hard and trying to get back right.
Have you worked any as the nickel cornerback?
I'm working some inside on the slot. I'm rotating in with the first nickel with Juston [Burris].
Coach Reed said earlier this week that Tennessee will be a tough challenge for the secondary because of the quality wideouts on their roster.
Tennessee has some great receivers, but we're a talented secondary. I think we can compete with any offense in the nation because we've got some great defensive backs. We've got All-Americans on our team... All-ACC players on our defense.
Tennessee is going to be a great challenge, but it is something we've got to handle.
Some think NC State has one of the top secondaries in the country.
To see those guys develop... make All-ACC or become All-Americans, I'm happy for those guys. We all came in together, and they work hard too. They deserve it.
I'm proud of them and being back with them has been great. I think we can do big things again this year.
How big is the opener against Tennessee for your team?
This is big. It can either make our season or break our season to me. If we can handle our business and beat Tennessee we'll be riding high.
People say the SEC is the best conference, but we think the ACC can play with anybody. If we go out and do what we can do it will be a huge start to the season for us.