Spotlight: Justin Byers, Part II

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NC State's persistence and devotion didn't just win over Justin Byers. The Wolfpack also had to win over his parents, and they did just that.

  • Spotlight I: Justin Byers
  • Spotlight II: Justin Byers
  • Gallery I: Justin Byers
  • Gallery II: Justin Byers

    "My family was comfortable with my decision," Justin Byers. "My mom made her mind up after we sat down and talked with the academic advisors, that made it comfortable for her."

    His father was different. Byers admitted that his father is a big North Carolina fan, and he had hoped the Tar Heels would offer his soon. After the UNC coaching staff chose to not extend a scholarship, he started to look closer at NC State and what the Wolfpack had to offer.

    "[North] Carolina saw me at three camps, and I went up there for their Junior Day," said Byers. "Before I made my decision I had a talk with my dad, and he's a huge Carolina fan. He loves Carolina. When he saw they looked at me that much, and they didn't offer me, he took it as a slap in the face. He said it was a slap in the face. Now he's saying that I just need to show them what I've got when I play them because I will be playing them every year when I get to State.

    "He didn't like State. He respected that I liked State and wanted to go to State, but he didn't like State because he was a Carolina fan. He's coming around now that I've committed there. He went out and bought State hats, he's got about three of those, and about five shirts now."

    Byers believed that an offer would eventually come from the Tar Heels, but instead of waiting any longer to see if another option would become available, he chose to commit to NC State.

    "I liked Carolina and I talked to coach Brock, and he said he was probably going to wait until August to offer," said Byers. "I just looked at it like I was not one of their top people.

    "State has been liking me ever since their camp last year when I ran a 4.44 up there. They were the first to offer me, and that let me know how much they wanted me because they offered in the spring before they even had to do it. They offered me early, and it let me know that they think I can play. They made their mind up quick, and they weren't going to wait around. I always remembered that they offered me first and that was important.

    "I just got to the point where I wanted to commit. I told my dad and my mom that I wanted to talk to coach Amato face-to-face so we went up to State and I did it. He was happy. I had told coach Portee earlier that week that I was going to go ahead and commit, but I had to talk it over with my parents."

    Byers stays in constant contact with NC State, but he doesn't just chat with his recruiting coach, Dick Portee, he also exchanges text messages with head coach Chuck Amato.

    "Coach Amato texts me about everyday to let me know about practice," he said. "I remember the other day when it was raining he sent me a text saying they were about to practice in the rain... that had me thinking about practicing in the rain, just getting after it."

    After committing to NC State, Byers had to get the good news out. Two of his best friends had already committed to local high-major schools, and he notified them of his decision. He also told his head coach, Jeff Simpson, that he had committed. However the first person to find out that Byers was headed to NC State, was his best friend, Virginia freshman defensive back Rico Bell.

    "He named like seven guys who signed NFL contracts that played defensive back for State."

    "My coach was happy for me, and he wanted me to be certain that was where I wanted to be," said Byers. "My friends were congratulating me. Daryl Vereen, he committed to Tennessee and Ryan Houston, he's going to Carolina, we all have just been congratulating each other. They were cool about it.

    "I told Rico Bell before I was going to even do it, and he was the one that told me I should. Virginia offered him during track of his junior year and that showed him they wanted him the most, and State did the same thing with me. He knew I stayed in touch with coach Portee a lot, and Rico said I should go ahead and commit to them."

    All three of his friends, Bell, Vereen, and Houston, are on NC State's schedule in the upcoming years. Byers is looking forward to facing them on the next level.

    "In high school, our school plays both Ryan and Daryl," he said. "It's going to be fun with that rivalry, especially with Ryan, us talking junk to each other.

    "Rico, I've always played on the same team with him, and we've known each other for so long, but I'm glad that I will get to go against him now."

    Standing 6-foot and 175 pounds, Byers could play corner or safety in college. At this point, he doesn't prefer a position, but is just happy knowing he will be playing defensive back and has a chance to play early.

    "State recruited me to play corner and safety," he said. "When it starts getting time for the NFL scouts to look at me, they'll see that I can play corner and safety. It will show that I'm versatile, and it should be an advantage.

    "When I was in coach Portee's office he named like seven guys who signed NFL contracts that played defensive back for State, so I know they know what it takes to make it there."

    More offers could come his way later this year, but Byers is firm with his decision.

    "I'm done," he said. "I told coach Simpson that I'm committed. He doesn't like the whole idea of soft committing or decommitting, so he wanted me to be sure and I told him I was.

    "He said he doesn't believe in these soft verbals. He said if I'm going to commit, I need to make a commitment. I need to be solid. It would look bad on my coach and our football program if I just make a soft commitment."

  • Pack Pride Top Stories