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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Tuesday, November 21, 2006

By Sammy Batten

Offensive Analysis  •  Defensive Analysis  •  Thumbnails

QB's & Receivers  •  O-Linemen & RB's  •  Thumbnails

Tight end Byrd a big catch in recruiting wars

Thomasville High star combines physical tools with versatile talents

All rights reserved.

Michael Byrd was looking for a college football program with supportive fans, good coaches and that had early playing time available for a young tight end.

Byrd found that combination in East Carolina.

“What drew me to East Carolina was the fan base, the coaching staff and the players seemed to be like good people to be around,’’ Byrd said. “And another factor was they were talking to me about immediate playing time.’’

The 6-foot-4, 226-pounder from Thomasville learned those things during an official visit to Greenville for ECU’s October 8 victory over Virginia, and he decided there was no need to look any further. Byrd fulfilled a major need for the Pirates in recruiting this year by making made an oral commitment before heading home on Sunday.

Since then, Byrd has been helping the Thomasville Bulldogs to a perfect season — so far — and a berth in the third round of the state 1-AA playoffs. A 27-yard touchdown reception by Byrd was one of the highlights last Friday as the Bulldogs knocked off West Montgomery 40-20 in the second round. They’ll play Cherryville in round three on Friday.

This is Byrd’s third season manning the tight-end position for the Thomasville varsity after playing with the JVs as a freshman.

“He was a kid who obviously when he came up here to the high school was a big kid for his age,’’ veteran Thomasville head coach Benji Brown said. “We actually played him at defensive end on the JVs and he did a pretty good job there.

“But it just so happened we had a need at tight end when he came up as a sophomore. We knew he was an athletic kid for his size, and he ended up having a knack for blocking people. He also caught the ball really well. It’s just seemed like a good fit.’’

Playing for the Thomasville varsity was the fulfillment of a childhood dream for Byrd. He often attended the Bulldog games as a child, and later came to watch cousin Jesse Tate play running back for Thomasville. Tate is now an assistant coach at the school.

“I grew up in the Bulldog tradition,’’ Byrd said.

Brown used Byrd on a part-time basis as a sophomore, playing him mostly in passing situations. Because Thomasville is primarily a running team on offense, Byrd didn’t accumulate many receptions as a junior when he moved into the starting lineup on a full-time basis. He did catch 10 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns to earn all-league honors.

But Byrd was utilize mainly as a blocker, who helped pave the way for tailback Quan Warley to rush for 3,034 yards and 43 touchdowns as the Bulldogs won the state 1-A championship.

East Carolina began showing an interest during Byrd’s junior year, as did other schools such as Clemson, North Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. But the Pirates were the first to come through with a scholarship offer last April.

Brown believes Byrd has a great future ahead at ECU.

“I do think he’ll be able to help them out in some capacity and he should be able to play pretty quick,’’ Brown said. “He’s a big, 6-foot-4, 235-pound kick with a lot of room to grow and get stronger.

“Another thing about Michael that a lot of people don’t know is that Michael is also a good long snapper. He’s good enough to do that in college as well.’’

Byrd is ready to do whatever the Pirates ask.

“I’m a team player,’’ he said. “I told them I’d do whatever I could to make the team better and get some victories.

“I’m a very aggressive player, but I’m under control. I block well, I catch the ball very well and I can run. Hopefully, I can put those to use at ECU.’’

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02/23/2007 02:37:50 PM


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