Arkeem Byrd isn’t holding a late scholarship offer against Tennessee. Defensive backs coach Willie Martinez explained the situation to Byrd’s satisfaction.
“Coach Martinez broke everything down,” said Byrd, a 3-star running back prospect from Jenkins High School (Savannah, Ga.). “He told me when I caught their eye, they didn’t know who I was. They had to find out who I was and they just took it from there.”
Once the Vols identified Byrd, they were willing to offer him a scholarship. Martinez did so on Monday.
“It was great,” Byrd said. “It’s an SEC offer. It was amazing.”
Byrd holds several other scholarship offers, but from schools less prominent than Tennessee. Georgia Tech, Minnesota and Colorado State are some of the more notable programs. Byrd said he doesn’t currently have a top group of schools.
“It’s getting late in recruiting season so I’m cutting them all down,” said Byrd, who told SEC Country that he’ll be taking an official visit to Tennessee on Jan. 15.
Byrd has already taken official visits to Minnesota (Oct. 31) and Colorado State (Sept. 11). Despite the late start, the Vols have made an impression.
“I know that Tennessee is a good program that’s achieving,” the 6-foot-1, 190-pound prospect said. “They were 8-4 and had a couple of rough games they could have won. They’ve established themselves already. They’re ready to start winning championships.”
Byrd said he watched Tennessee several times this season, including games against Alabama, Georgia and Florida. He’s also watched the Vols improve under third-year coach Butch Jones.
“They get better each and every year,” he said. “They were so close to beating Alabama and they’re one of the top teams in the nation. They lost to Florida by a point and Florida just played in the SEC Championship Game. They’re right there knocking on the door.”
Byrd said he has no timetable as to when he will announce his decision. If the Vols secure his commitment, Willie Martinez will deserve much of the credit.
“I think he’s a real person,” Byrd said. “Coach Martinez came to my house Monday and gave me a Tennessee offer.”
Late or not, that offer seems to be carrying a great deal of weight.