Wednesday's practice provided good opportunities for a number of young Ducks, as many of the first-string players opted to lick their wounds rather than take another pounding at the hands of their teammates.[details]
2005 (Redshirt): Spent his first season working with the scout team and continuing to develop. Displayed great skill and work ethic and could be a serious contender for playing time as a redshirt freshman. Earned a number of scout team honors during the season, helping the team prepare for upcoming opponents. Definately one to keep an eye out for.
2004 (Redshirt):HIGH SCHOOL ó To merely hint that the Missouri 4A offensive player of the year played a large role in leading the Greyhounds to the 2004 state championship would be a gross understatement. He willed the school to a 13-1 ledger as a quarterback, safety, wide receiver and on special teams to aid the march to the Suburban East Conference title. Ranking fourth in the state in scoring (158 points), he rushed for 1,480 yards (7th in the state) while averaging 8.76 yards per carry and scoring 26 touchdowns his senior season. In addition, he passed for another 1,038 yards (65-128) and 13 scores. Also was afforded first-team all-state accolades on defense as his teamís second-leading tackler posted 71 stops (60 unassisted) along with seven interceptions (5th in the state), three quarterback sacks and two fumble recoveries. Completed the package with six catches for 125 yards (20.8 avg.), 10 kickoff returns for a 30.1-yard average, 15 returned punts for a pace of 13.3 yards per attempt in addition to punting the football 18 times for a 37.6-yard clip. After moving from Wisconsin prior to his junior year, he ran for 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2003 as a quarterback in addition to snagging five interceptions as a defensive back. The son of former 10-year NFL defensive back standout Gill Byrd also was a first-team all-league choice in baseball and basketball.
Personal: Born Jairus Byrd on Oct. 7, 1986 in San Diego, Calif. Parents: Gill and Marilyn Byrd. Family: One brother. High School (Coach): Clayton (Mike Musick) 2005.
The Good: A tall, strong athlete with good footwork and body control in his drop. Does a nice job re-routing receivers off the line and smoothly settling into zone coverage. Possesses very flexible hips for his size and is quickly able to redirect and burst toward the football. Showcases good instincts and does a nice job reading the quarterback's eyes and making plays on the ball. Great hands and coordination when going up to make a play. The Bad: Lacks straight-line speed and closing range. Will struggle if asked to play man coverage at the next level. Is a bit scheme-limited and needs to play in a Cover 2 to be most successful.
Positives: Terrific ball skills. Big and athletic. Smart. Instinctive. Has an advanced understanding of the game. Good route recognition. Very active defending the pass - outstanding interception production. Very large hands. Displays quick ball reactions and exceptional hands to snatch the ball out of the air. Nice body control and concentration to catch over his shoulder. Will support fast and leverage the run. Sound tackler. Tremendous work ethic - football is important to him and he takes his craft seriously. Works hard in the weight room. Has return ability - shows short-area burst and vision and can break some tackles. Confident and competitive. Negatives: Lacks elite long speed and top-end acceleration. Not quick-twitched. Allows receivers to eat up his cushion and can struggle matching up with speed down the field. Could stand to improve hand use to shed blocks and hit with more pop. Summary: Good-sized, press-zone ballhawk with the instincts, toughness and versatility to give a decision maker comfort. His biggest flaw is his lack of top-end speed, which could reduce him to playing in short areas a la Ronde Barber. Should mature into a solid No. 2 corner. Can be a reliable return man and even might wind up playing free safety. Grade: Second-to-third-round talent.