North Augusta’s C.J. Byrd, who is considered one of the nation’s top college
prospects, was handed the phone on Tuesday with no idea about who was on the line.
“Big Byrd, this is Nick Saban, head coach of LSU,” the voice said. “We’d
like to offer you a scholarship to come play for the Tigers.”
Byrd hesitated for moment, not sure whether or not someone was playing a prank on him.
After the North Augusta coaching staff showed him the piece of paper with the number at
LSU they (North Augusta) had called only a few minutes earlier, Byrd realized he was talking to the coach
of this past year’s co-national championship team.
“Coach Saban, thank you so much, it is an honor to talk with you …. I’m
really excited about all of this,” Byrd said.
LSU became the 10th school to offer Byrd, following in the footsteps of Georgia,
Virginia Tech, Auburn, South Carolina, Clemson, Maryland, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and
Illinois. The player who is affectionately called “Big Byrd” because of
his good-natured attitude and tall but muscular build has also been getting mail on
a routine basis from more the 40 colleges and could have several more offers by the end of
“LSU called us earlier in the week to ask if CJ was interested,” North
Augusta assistant coach Steve Mixon said. “CJ will have many tough decisions to make
during the recruiting process, but asking whether or not he was interested in playing for
the defending national champions wasn’t one of them.
“He’s pumped, and so is everybody in and around our football program. Let’s
face the facts: LSU right now can get in the door with any high school player in the
country and they are coming hard after Big Byrd.
“(Saban) told CJ that they are recruiting a WR from Florida that is ranked No. 1
in the country. However, Saban said after watching CJ’s tape, they thought he was
just as good, if not better, than the other player. When arguably the top program in the
land gives you an evaluation like that, you should feel honored and special. And Lord
knows, CJ is a special talent.”
The 6-foot-3, 184-pound Byrd caught 37 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns, along
with returning two kickoffs for 100-yard touchdowns this past season. He led North Augusta’s
defense with 92 tackles. “Big Byrd” is one of two South Carolina players being
considered by ESPN's Tom Lemming for next year's US Army All-America Bowl game.
“When I watched LSU play for the national championship this past year, I never
imagined I would have the chance to play for them,” Byrd said. “The Lord has
opened some amazing doors for me and I appreciate everybody around North Augusta, most
notably my teammates and coaches, for putting me in this position.”