Tuesday, June 19, 2007

2007 Recruiting - Demetrius Byrd

The young man to the left is Demetrius Byrd, wide receiver, 6'2", 195#, 4.4 40, out of Pearl River Community College. He was a late commitment to the team in 2007, and the only junior college signee of the class. He was a 4-star on Rivals and a 5-star on Scout.

I may have mentioned before that the recruiting services update and change their ratings and rankings as the season progresses, and Demetrius Byrd is a great example of that. He is also an example of a prospect about whom there was wide disagreement among the recruiting services. For the longest time, Scout had him listed as a 5-star, the highest rating given, while Rivals had him listed as a 3-star, a middling rating. Late in the recruiting season, however, Rivals changed their rating of him and made him a 4-star, partially closing that gap. Perhaps it was because LSU, in the midst of a great recruiting class, was pushing hard for him.

Why was LSU pushing so hard for a JUCO wideout? Well, there are several reasons:
  • He has great measurables
  • Outside of Early Doucet, our receiver corp is very young, inexperienced, and unproven, such as Brandon Lafell, Chris & Jared Mitchell, and Ricky Dixon (not to be confused with Richard Dickson).
  • We had several other wide receiver recruits who were questionable on making the grades to qualify, two of whom reportedly will not qualify.
Contrary to popular belief, there is a lot more to the wide receiver position than running fast and catching true, especially in a Gary Crowton-led offense. All wide receivers have to learn how to make the hard cuts that have a chance to leave a defensive back behind. All wide receivers have to learn how to make hot reads to protect a QB who is being blitzed. All (LSU) wide receivers have to learn how to block reliably. Gary Crowton's wide receivers also have to learn how to read defensive backs and make their moves based on what the defense is doing. This is different from how Jimbo Fisher ran his offense, and is probably the single biggest adjustment the offense will have to make.

As a JUCO guy, Byrd has done all of this much more than his just-out-of-high-school counterparts like John Williams, Terrance Toliver, and Ron Brooks. The expectation is that he will join the team in the fall much more ready to contribute than those guys are because he's spent two years out of high school getting higher level coaching and playing against higher level competition. It worked with Claude Wroten several years ago, and there's no reason it can't work with Demetrius Byrd.

Of course, we only get him for 2 years.

If all goes well, he competes with Brandon Lafell immediately for the #2 receiver spot, with the loser of that battle taking the #3 spot.

If I may make a bold statement, I don't think we would have signed Byrd if the coaches were pleased with the progress of Jared Mitchell, Chris Mitchell, and Ricky Dixon. Then again, this signing may be a way of motivating those guys, because if Byrd passes them on the depth chart, those guys may never play.

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