A little bit of chaos has been good for Naples graduate Tyler Byrd over the first half of the college football season.
While the former four-star recruit out of Southwest Florida hasn’t been the focal point of Tennessee’s offense over the first six weeks, which has included miracle games and remarkable comeback performances, he’s found an important role as a wide receiver on a team ranked among the nation’s top 25.
Which is kind of surprising, considering he was recruited to be a cornerback.
But the 6-foot, 195-pound athlete has made the most of his opportunity. His best game came Saturday in the team’s 45-38 double-overtime loss to Texas A&M, the Volunteers’ (5-1) first loss of the season.
Byrd caught three passes for 60 yards and rushed two times for 11 yards.
“I’ve just got to beware of that freshman wall right now and just push him through this thing right here,” Tennessee wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni told 247 Sports last week.
Byrd is transitioning well enough. He’s played in all six games and is fourth on the team with nine catches for 119 yards. He signed with Tennessee as part of a two-player coup from Naples — along with four-star running back Carlin Fils-aime.
Byrd has yet to reach the end zone, but knows his time will come eventually.
“It’s just all coming together now that I’m playing more and that I’m getting more snaps,” Byrd told 247 Sports after the team’s win over Florida in late September. “I just stayed patient. I just know that when my name is called, I’ve got to make plays.”
Jammin’ Johnson: South Florida junior D’Ernest Johnson continued his stellar play with 111 all-purpose yards in a 38-22 win over East Carolina at Raymond James Stadium. The Immokalee grad, who rushed seven times for 42 yards and caught five passes for 53 yards, had two receiving touchdowns. Through six games, he’s third on the team in rushing, third in receiving and leads the Bulls with nine scores.
Defensively, Immokalee alums Deadrin Senat (DT) and Jaymon Thomas (S) combined for eight tackles in USF’s win.
Sycamores duo: Indiana State dropped its second straight game after earning a national ranking in FCS with a heartbreaking 36-35 loss to Western Illinois, but Naples grad Jerry Nunez was 5 for 5 in extra points and Evangelical Christian School alum and kickoff specialist Andrew Lunsford booted six kickoffs for 323 yards, an average of 54 yards per kick.
Zip attack: It was a light day for Akron running backs Van Edwards (Island Coast) and Manny Morgan (Naples) in a 35-13 win over Miami of Ohio. The pair combined for 19 carries and just 37 yards in the win. Edwards also returned one kick for 21 yards.
Greenie in NYC: Fort Myers grad Levi McQuinn earned his first tackle Saturday for Columbia in a 15-13 win over Wagner on the road. The former Green Wave linebacker transferred from Air Force and sat out a year.
Defensive specialist: Kenny Bishop, a South Fort Myers alum, was one of Youngstown State’s top defensive players on Saturday in a 20-6 win over Illinois State, logging five tackles, one sack, one tackle for a loss and one pass breakup. Teammate Nate Dortch, another Wolfpack grad, had two tackles.
Arkansas falls: Ryan Pulley, a starting cornerback for the Razorbacks, produced three tackles and had one fumble recovery during a 49-30 loss to Alabama. The Island Coast graduate continues to be one of Arkansas’ best cover corners.
Terps dip: Immokalee alum JC Jackson, a cornerback for Maryland, had two tackles in a 38-14 loss to Penn State. It was the Terps’ first loss of the season.
Witt it: Palmetto Ridge graduate Jaheem Washington, a freshman for Wittenberg University, led all rushers with 10 carries for 60 yards in a 21-10 win over DePauw in a Division III game.