There’s been a lot of discussion lately about whether or not Tennessee Vols defensive back/wide receiver Tyler Byrd is a “bust”.
I’m not a fan of labeling amateur athletes “busts”, so I think it’s an asinine conversation to have.
The notion of Byrd being a bust is also crazy because he could be a key player for the Vols in 2018.
Byrd originally signed with Tennessee in 2016 as the No. 10 rated cornerback in the nation. Previous head coach Butch Jones elected to use Byrd at wide receiver, and he actually had a pretty good freshman season. Playing behind Josh Malone and Jauan Jennings, Byrd caught 15 passes for 209 yards. Modest numbers, but solid for a true freshman.
For a variety of reasons, Byrd wasn’t much of a factor in the offense last season. He didn’t see the field as often as he did as a freshman. Byrd also didn’t benefit from subpar play from the quarterback position and the offensive line.
As Byrd continued to be underused in 2017, Vol fans clamored for Jones to use the Florida native at cornerback.
That obviously never happened under Jones. New head coach Jeremy Pruitt, however, moved Byrd to the defensive side of the ball when spring practice started in March.
Byrd spent the first portion of spring practice playing defensive back, before he was moved back to wide receiver earlier this week.
It’s unclear why Pruitt moved Byrd back to the offense, but it might have to do with the fact that Tennessee’s head coach wants his players to have the ability to play multiple positions.
I don’t think Pruitt moved Byrd because he was completely lost on the defensive side of the ball.
It was just a couple of weeks ago that Pruitt praised Byrd’s “ball skills”.
Pruitt says Tyler Byrd “has really good ball skills” and says his best position might be at safety.
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) March 24, 2018
Jeremy Pruitt following Spring Practice No. 3: “We’re a man-to-man team, Tyler Byrd can use his natural vision to keep an eye on the quarterback.”
— Dan Harralson (@danharralson) March 24, 2018
I don’t think we can give up on Byrd playing on defense just yet. There’s a decent chance Pruitt wants to see Byrd practice on the offensive side of the ball, because he clearly has the ability to be a key player in the Vols’ offense next season.
Pruitt has proved during his time at Alabama, Florida State and Georgia that he’s a good developer of talent. I’m excited to see how he will use Byrd in 2018.
While I’m not expecting Byrd to be an All-SEC player next season, I do think he’ll be an important part of Tennessee’s success.
Featured image via 247Sports