“There weren’t really any changes as far as the way it was set up,” the 6-foot-2, 240-pound quarterback from Kathleen (Ga.) Veterans said. “The only real change was this year I’m committed. And the first time I was coming in, I was trying to impress everybody. This time around, I was more focused on recruiting. I was just trying to get guys to join our club.”
Byrd, who arrived in Chapel Hill the Friday prior and remained on campus until Sunday, fired up his recruiting efforts Saturday after lunch. His targets: Luke Elder, his potential blindside defender, and Garrett Walston, his potential safety blanket.
After working Elder in the hours prior to the Freak Show, Byrd spent the night with Walston.
So far, Byrd is batting 1.000 with one pending. Elder ended up announcing his commitment during the “Who’s Next?” portion of the Freak Show. Meanwhile, Walston – a project Byrd has worked on beyond the Freak Show – is set to announce his collegiate decision on Tuesday.
“I think we have a really good chance [with Walston],” Byrd said. “I won’t give too many of the details, but I think we have a great thing. I know it’s between [UNC] and Georgia.”
As of Monday afternoon, Byrd had yet to communicate with Walston since he returned from this weekend’s Georgia visit. However, Byrd planned on contacting Walston Monday night for one last pitch.
“I’m going to make sure I do as much as I can to try to get him to North Carolina,” Byrd said.
Since he grew up a Georgia fan, the role is a complete reversal for Byrd. But, he can take solace in knowing that UNC has had plenty of success this recruiting cycle in the Peach State. In fact, of the 11 members of the Tar Heels’ commitment list, five are Georgians (a sixth, Tyler Pritchett, lives on the Alabama/Georgia border).
“To be honest, I can’t really give you an answer as to why [UNC has had success in Georgia],” Byrd said. “But if they’re like me, as soon as you visit North Carolina you realize it’s a really special place. Why wouldn’t you want to come there? I think the guys from Georgia – like me – are really attracted to what North Carolina has to offer.”
Besides recruiting, the Freak Show was somewhat of a gathering of UNC pledges. Byrd was one of seven -- and counting -- future Tar Heels on campus for the event.
“I think we’re a pretty tight knit group,” Byrd said. “Everybody seems to get along. And we get along with the players that are there – particularly all the freshmen that are coming in. As a matter of fact, I talk to Jay Jay McCargo and Tyler Pritchett pretty frequently on social media about different guys we need to target.”
Beyond Walston, Byrd’s – and apparently McCargo’s and Pritchett’s – next target is Jordon Brown, a running back from Durham (N.C.) Southern.
“I’ve got to get on him,” Byrd said. “That’s my next project, I guess you could say.”
Late last week, UNC picked up its most recent commitment – Chazz Surratt. The move converts the Tar Heels’ class into a two-quarterback haul.
“Chazz and I get along well,” Byrd said. “We met in Chapel Hill and then hung out some at the Charlotte [Nike] Opening Regional.
“[His commitment] doesn’t change anything for me. I think competition brings out the best in everyone. I’m looking forward to him being in the quarterback room. I think he’ll be a great fit. And he’s an even better guy.”
More importantly, Keith Heckendorf, UNC’s quarterbacks coach, kept Byrd in the loop as the situation developed.
“Coach Heck told me that if anything was going to happen, he was going to tell me first,” Byrd said. “And he did and I was okay with that.”