The start of the season hasn't gone the way Roderick Byers has wanted for his Northwestern Trojans. The 2011 defensive end has seen his team start the year 0-2 after making it to the AAAA Division 2 state championship game last year before succumbing to South Pointe. SCPrepNation.com caught up with Byers to talk about his rise over the offseason and thoughts looking forward during his junior season.
A strong showing late last season and some good performances on the camp and combine circuit helped elevate his status in-state as one of the top 2011 prospects. That status came from plenty of hard work Byers told us.
"My offseason was all about getting better. I lifted weights everyday this summer."
Asked what particular aspects of his game he tried to concentrate on improving the most he replied, "I wanted to be more of a complete player. I wanted to be strong in all areas. I spent most of my time reading blocks. Almost every block an offensive lineman throws at you will tell you which way the ball is headed."
Byers makes no bones about his current strength on the gridiron either. "I feel my ability to clog holes and stop the run is my biggest advantage."
He also stressed other areas he wanted to continue to evolve his game.
"I would like to use my hands more. I tend to let blockers stay on me for too long. I feel that I need to be on the quarterback in three seconds so I should defeat the block in one second."
Teaming with fellow 2011 prospect DT Gerald Dixon teams have found the going tough in terms of rushing the ball.
"We just want to go out and disrupt as much as possible."
Although the Trojans are 0-2 on the young season Byers has made an impact for coach Jimmy Wallace's squad and he's looking to continue the pattern throughout the rest of the year.
"I just want to show what I can do. My only downfall is that I dont have much film so I'm anxious to play and help my team get on the winning track again."
In the first game of the season Byers matched up against 2011 OL Brandon Shell from Goose Creek. Even though his team lost he felt like it was a great test to line up against Shell who is projected to be one of the top 3 in-state prospects overall in the 2011 class. "I wanted to get reps against him but they kept running away from me and Gerald most of the night. I wanted to see where I stood against one of the state's very best "
Many schools that have expressed early interest in Byers want to see his film from the first 3 or 4 games of his junior season. With that in the back of his mind what's his mindset each time he steps out on the field?
"I'm thrilled. I'm going to give it all that I have and hope to raise a few eye brows every game this year."
This offseason was a busy one for the 2011 prospect so he was only able to make just one visit. "This offseason I was only able to make a visit to South Carolina. Overall it was a pretty good experience and I was impressed with what they have to offer. I am hearing the most from the Gamecocks right now. I'd like to hear more from Clemson, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina."
As it stands right now all of those aforementioned schools comprise his early list of favorites in no particular order. Don't expect him however to make an early decision. Byers says he intends to make a decision on National Signing Day 2011.
There also remains a number of games on the schedule this season that Byers says he's really looking forward to.
"I can't wait to play Rock Hill and South Pointe. They have some of the state's top players on each of those teams. Gaffney is another school I'm looking forward to playing."
Byers also reported some of his new maxes from his offseason work in the weight room reporting a bench press of 325 pounds and power clean of 285 pounds. He also reports a low of 4.7 seconds in the 40 yard dash.
Stay tuned to SCPrepNation.com for more updates concerning Roderick Byers as he continues to push on looking for that elusive first scholarship offer.
2011 DE RODERICK BYERS
NORTHWESTERN HIGH SCHOOL