Tyler Byrd’s late decision to sign with Tennessee instead of Miami was one of the surprises in the 2016 recruiting class. Suddenly, the Vols had plucked a four-star prospect from South Florida just a day before National Signing Day.
Of course, coaching changes played a part in Byrd’s decision. Miami’s former interim head coach, Larry Scott, was suddenly the tight ends coach at Tennessee. Byrd’s recruitment was a roller-coaster ride, one that Byrd wishes he would have handled a bit differently.
Q: If you could give a junior only one piece of advice about the recruiting process, what would it be?
A: It would be to wait until you know for sure that’s the school you want to go to and then make a commitment. Take all of your official visits, all of your unofficial visits and just weigh your options out fully before committing to a school.
Q: What was your biggest regret during the recruiting process?
A: Committing early. I should have just waited and just weighed out all of my options.
Q: What’s the biggest secret you kept during the recruiting process?
A: Probably the last week or so, how much I really liked the visit at Tennessee. I didn’t really show much of anything towards the end, so I think I was a little secretive there.
Q: When did you want to commit to Tennessee after your visit to Knoxville on Jan. 29?
A: I think it was when I came back to Naples, the next day or next two days after. I was just like, ‘Yeah, this is where I want to go.’
Q: What school came in second? What could they have done a little better?
A: University of Miami for sure came in second. I think really the player’s environment was a lot different.
Q: How so?
A: I think there was more togetherness from Tennessee. Miami might get to the point where they are together, but Tennessee already has that togetherness.
Q: How did you tell Miami’s coaches?
A: I just got them on the phone and said I felt like the best opportunity for me was to go to Tennessee and I understand that Miami could give me the same potential opportunities and anything I want to accomplish can be accomplished at Miami, but Tennessee is my best fit.
Q: How did they respond?
A: Coach (Mark) Richt just said ‘Thank you’ and that he enjoyed the recruiting process with me even though it was so late. Then I got a text from (cornerbacks) coach (Mike) Rumph and he told me good luck. (Editor’s note: Richt was hired by Miami in December.)
Q: If you were in charge of the NCAA, what’s the one rule you would change with recruiting?
A: It would probably be to have more official visits than just five.
Q: Why is that?
A: Because, say, I wanted to visit USC in California, I would have to wait until really late into my recruiting class for my official visit. So if at least you could do it early or have more official visits, then you could have more options.
Q: Describe the impact of cost of attendance on your recruiting?
A: That’s a big impact really because you want to be able to do things and maybe get your parents up for a few more games than they could have. So having that little extra, you can help them out a lot more.