March 23, 2004

C.J. Big Byrd Gets Offer From Big 10

Penn State legendary coach Joe Paterno offered a scholarship to North Augusta's C.J. Byrd on Tuesday afternoon.

It was the 14th scholarship offer for the WR and FS who is affectionately called "Big Byrd" because of his good-natured attitude and tall but lanky build. Penn State offered one day after Oklahoma.

"I called Coach Paterno and talked to him for about 15 minutes," Byrd said. "He sounded a lot a like my mom; he stressed academics over and over. He said Penn State had never signed a player out of South Carolina who did not earn his degree ... something that I know my mother will love hearing."

Paterno said that Penn State just finished building a brand-new business school on campus, according to Byrd. Big Byrd wants to major in accounting or education.

"Coach Paterno thinks C.J. is the model student-athlete for Penn State's program, which is a great compliment to C.J., his parents and North Augusta High School," North Augusta coach Joe Long. "He said they don't normally offer many players this early, but he felt he couldn't wait another day after watching the tape."

Paterno complimented Big Byrd on his "brutal hits on defense" and said the rising senior could play either offense or defense at the Big 10 school.

Paterno also said he will at North Augusta's spring practice. Said Long, "It will be one of the highlights of my coaching career having Coach Paterno on our campus. He is a living legend. Heck, I am nervous about it already."

The other colleges to offer Byrd include Oklahoma, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, Clemson, South Carolina and Illinois. Big Byrd said on Wednesday afternoon all schools are "dead even" and that he won't start picking out favorites until after he visits many of the campuses this spring and summer.

Big Byrd has made unofficial visits to Clemson, Auburn and South Carolina. He will travel to Tennessee and Georgia over the next two weekends.




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