Damiere Byrd doesn’t know exactly how it happened, but he grew up with the University of Florida on his mind.
It wasn’t family ties or the occasional game experience in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. No, the Sicklerville, N.J., Timber Creek athlete says after watching games on TV, he randomly fell for the Gators. To show his early pride, Byrd sported a Gators hoodie growing up.
Now, it’s Florida that is a fan of Byrd. Florida’s coaches offered him a scholarship last week, making his enthusiasm for the Gators skyrocket.
“Who wouldn’t have interest in the Gators?” Byrd said. “They are a household name in college — a factory when it comes to putting players in the (NFL).
“I was excited (to get Florida offer). Florida offering tells you that you’re an elite-caliber player.”
Byrd will get his chance to see Florida’s program in person when he travels to Gainesville this weekend for an unofficial visit.
Byrd might be a little starstruck when he gets on campus, but it might be Florida’s coaches who act a little more giddy. Byrd has become a celebrity in the high school football world after he was clocked running the fastest 40-yard dash time in Nike combine history when he posted an impressive 4.26.
“I was definitely happy about that,” Byrd said.
The college coach that nabs him will surely be happy about that, too. But Byrd said college coaches will have to wait on a decision from him because he has no timetable for trimming his list, let alone a commitment date. With offers from many top Division-I programs, Byrd will have a lot of thinking to do in the coming months.
For now, Byrd is enjoying the recruiting process and doesn’t want to rush anything. He still isn’t even sure what position he wants to play in college. He likes receiver, where he caught 38 passes for 605 yards and four touchdowns as a junior. He also spent time at running back, carrying the ball 78 times for 685 yards and eight scores. Some schools are recruiting him as a cornerback, like Florida. Byrd said he’ll play the position that gets him on the field the fastest.
The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Byrd could also be used in the return game. He took two punts back for scores last season.