Byrd, Sutton doing well at Fork Union

South Carolina continued its recent trend of placing non-qualifiers in prep school this year when the tandem of Chaz Sutton and Ronald Byrd didn't make the necessary grades to qualify out of high school. Both players are attending Fork Union Military Academy this fall, and spoke with FUMA head coach John Shuman this week to discuss how the duo is performing on and off the field.

For the second consecutive year, South Carolina has placed some of its non-qualifying signees at Fork Union Military Academy - a prep school that helps post-graduate students improve their SAT scores, while giving them the opportunity to play an extra year of organized football in the process. All three of USC's prep school placements from the 2007 signing class improved their test scores enough last fall to enroll at South Carolina in January, and the Gamecocks are hoping for similar results with 2008 placements Chaz Sutton and Ronald Byrd.

According to Fork Union head football coach John Shuman, the tandem of Sutton and Byrd are working hard on improving their test scores and are scheduled to take the SAT this weekend.

"They're doing very good. We've got our first SAT this weekend so we are fired up," said Shuman. "We're extremely excited about it. We've pushed them hard, and we think they've done enough to improve. We've got to get that first (test) under our belt and see where we're at. This is a big week for us."

On the field, Fork Union has started the 2008 season with a 2-1 record, and Shuman says Sutton has been an extremely active and productive player for the FUMA defense.

"Chaz Sutton is an elite player," he said emphatically. "He plays d-end and linebacker, and he has six sacks in three games already. He makes a lot of tackles. He's definitely a top-flight player. He's fast, strong, active, and all that good stuff."

The 6'4", 236 pound Sutton is versatile and athletic enough to play with his hand up or his hand down on defense, but Shuman believes the Savannah, GA native will begin his career at linebacker for the Gamecocks next year.

"I know they like big linebackers, so I think they have an eye for him to start out at linebacker. I think he'll start off there, and how big his body gets in that college weight room will determine if he goes down or stays up."

Shuman also had glowing remarks about Byrd, who was considered a sleeper prospect in USC's 2008 signing class.

"Ronald Byrd is another stalwart defensive end. He's tall, rangy, blocks a lot of passes, plays the run real well, and is a good pass rusher. He's done a very good job for us too."

There's been some speculation that the 6'6", 258 pound Byrd might grow into an offensive lineman at South Carolina, but Shuman firmly believes that Byrd has a bright future on the defensive line.

"We've been working his defensive skills, and he's a natural there. South Carolina thinks he's going to blow up and maybe move on the inside (to defensive tackle). He's done very good here," Shuman said. "We really like him on 'D.' He's either going to swell up and be an inside guy or stay out there at end and use his quickness like he does now."

Both players are hoping to be eligible to enroll at South Carolina in January, according to Shuman. Once arriving at USC, they will still have their full five years to play four eligibility clock.

Stay tuned to in the coming months for the latest on Sutton and Byrd's progress at prep school.

To discuss this article, visit GamecockAnthem's premium forum - The Golden Spur.

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories