North Augusta's C.J. Byrd, one of the nation's top college prospects for next year, returned from his unofficial visit to South Carolina on Saturday evening and found an overnight package under his doorstep.
Inside the package was a scholarship offer from the University of Tennessee, the 12th scholarship offer so far for the player affectionately nicknamed "Big Byrd" because of his good-natured attitude and tall but muscular build.
"I thought it was going to be another normal recruiting letter, but this one read a little different from the others from Tennessee," Byrd said. "It is a great feeling to be offered by Tennessee ... a lot of people I have talked to say that it is the loudest atmosphere in college football."
The 6-foot-3, 184-pound Byrd had called Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer earlier in the week. The two talked for about 15 minutes on Wednesday.
"Coach Fulmer is one of most personable coaches I have yet to meet," Byrd said. "He seems like he really cares about his players. He asked everything from about my parents to my brothers and sisters. He seemed like a great guy, very down to earth."
Fulmer did not offer Byrd over the telephone, but told North Augusta assistant Steve Mixon that a package would be coming to Byrd's house later in the week.
"I was thinking and hoping it might be a scholarship offer, but we don't take anything for granted," Mixon said. "C.J. was excited about the letter once he realized what it was all about.
"It seemed like the week couldn't get any better after offers from Virginia and defending national champion LSU, but it did with the offer from Tennessee. Every day seems to bring a new surprise."
Big Byrd said he enjoyed his visit on Saturday to South Carolina, which said he could play either WR or FS. Byrd will make recruiting trips the next two weekends to Tennessee and Georgia.
"I'm just trying to take everything in, listening to what everybody has to say," Byrd said. "All the travel can be exhausting at times, but I am blessed to be in this position. I have no complaints.
"I am going to see as many colleges this spring and summer so I can concentrate completely on football beginning in July."
Big Byrd, who is bring recruited at both WR and FS, is one of the state's two nominees for next year's U.S. Army All-America Bowl game, which consists of the nation's top 78 players. He was named to the Rivals.com top 100 list of prospects for next year.