Byrd adjusting well with Sooners

OU fans were excited when Hatari Byrd committed and signed with the Sooners. Everybody is starting to find out why.

Oklahoma safety Gabe Lynn didn't mince his words when talking about who is lining up next to him during practices. Right now it's Quentin Hayes, and Hayes has put himself into earning that position.

But the future? The future is freshman Hatari Byrd, and the future might be now. Ask any OU player or coach in the last two weeks, and one name is constantly uttered about who is standing out right now.

Wide receivers say Byrd because they're going against him all the time. Defenders say Byrd because they already see the potential.

"He looks like a beast," defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue said. "Like for a defensive back, he's 6-foot-3. Like R.J. [Washington] said about David [King], he looks like he's prison swole.

"That kid is big. Reminds me of Q [Quentin] Carter, like a fully-developed Q Carter. Like, he's a freshman? Yeah, that kid is huge."

Byrd didn't get the start that other incoming freshmen got. His senior year at Fresno (Calif.) Central ended in mid-June. The very next day he was on a flight from Cali to Norman, Okla., to begin the next chapter.

OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was quick to point out how versatile Byrd has been for the defense. In the first three days of practice, Byrd was practicing at three different positions in the secondary.

"If he can get his technique, like we are all on the same level, we still working our technique, trying to get it right before the season comes," cornerback Cortez Johnson said. "But Hatari, he could be a big-time player. He can move pretty well. He's got great footwork. He's got a great attitude, physical. He's got all the tools."

Mike Stoops like big defensive backs, and he might have hit the jackpot with Byrd. His size is the one thing that stands out to his teammates but that's not the only thing.

"He's anticipating," Ndulue said. "That's a lot of what the defensive backs are known for around here, anticipating where the ball is going to be and having that quickness.

"If he can just develop those skills and just listen to Coach [Bobby Jack] Wright and Coach Mike [Stoops], then he's going to be a great player for us."

Which is exactly what all OU fans have been excited about and are hoping for regarding Byrd. It was a tense time around this year when Byrd committed to the Sooners despite the fact he had never visited the campus.

Things changed following Byrd's official visit where he said he fell in love with OU all over again. The Sooners never had to sweat it out with Byrd and even got a two-for-one special with cornerback L.J. Moore signing on signing day.

OU is hoping for one more Byrd connection for the Class of 2014 with five-star wide receiver Michiah Quick, who is Byrd's cousin. Time will tell if the Fresno Trio becomes a reality. Right now OU fans and the program are just happy to have Byrd in the fold.

"In the slot I'm going against Hatari Byrd, and he's looking really good," wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. "I've never seen guys that big that move that fast. You know, he's looking really good at practice."

Byrd has looked solid in OU's scrimmages so far, and it wouldn't be accurate to rule him out starting in two weeks against Louisiana Monroe. If it doesn't happen then, don't worry as it won't be long before he becomes a fixture in the OU secondary.

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