Byrd comfortable at OU

It wasn't an ideal freshman season for Hatari Byrd, but he's ready to change that this fall.

Even before his first game at Oklahoma, safety Hatari Byrd had already made some headlines. A nonchalant answer to a question last summer about being the starter had riled up some and excited others.

Obviously that never quite panned out. Byrd never replaced Gabe Lynn and really didn’t see much action at all last season. He played in five games, never significant duty in any of them and ended the season with three tackles.

But 2014 should be different. If you ask him, there’s no qualifier to that statement because it will be different for the sophomore from Fresno, Calif.

“I’m really comfortable,” Byrd said. “I wouldn’t want to say I’m settling. I can always get better. But I’m very comfortable about knowing my keys and the coverages that I’m having to learn. It’s less learning and more reacting.”

The learning curve was a process last season. And admittedly, nothing came as easy as Byrd thought. For one thing, he thought he was going to settle into the free safety role.

He practiced some at the position, but he was practicing at the nickelback and the strong safety position as well. For a true freshman, trying to grasp all the concepts was a big challenge.

But he never got discouraged and never doubted that defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was only doing what he thought was best.

“It was hard learning three or four positions last camp when I first got here,” Byrd said. “I’m just playing free safety so I’m not really learning a lot of things, just working on the whole defense and everything coming together.”

“Everything happens for a reason. I can’t stay in the past, have to move forward. Coach Stoops knows what he’s doing. I just have to do what he said and learn it the best way I can.”

That attitude is one reason why Byrd is starting to become a more frequent name when teammates are asked about who is looking good in camp.

It was never about making that transition from Fresno to Norman, never a case of being homesick. And now with his cousin, Michiah Quick, being on the team as well, he’s ready to roll.

“It wasn’t that big of a transition because I kind of was out on my own anyway so I knew what to expect,” Byrd said. “It’s wonderful to have somebody from back home here. At practice, we focus, but we’re laughing around.”

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