Speedy wide receiver Damiere Byrd (5-9 156) of Sicklerville, N.J., committed Wednesday to play football at South Carolina.
Byrd is the second under-6-foot speed burner to join the Gamecocks in two recruiting classes following Ace Sanders. He announced his choice Wednesday afternoon at a news conference at his school, Timber Creek High.
"The Gamecocks are a team that’s on the rise in the SEC," he said. "They haven’t had good seasons in the past, but each year they’ve gradually won more games and are changing Columbia."
Byrd has been strong on USC since last summer when he visited for a seven-on-seven tournament. He made an official visit here during the weekend of the Alabama game.
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"It’s beautiful," he said. "It’s nothing really different from here. It’s kind of like a city but it’s kind of not. It’s not too big or too small."
After a good official visit to the campus, he said he already fits in with the current crop of South Carolina receivers.
"I hung out with Ace Sanders, Alshon Jeffery and Jason Barnes and D.L. [Moore] and all them. I fit in with them already, so I’m not afraid about that."
Byrd picked USC over Iowa, Florida and Ole Miss. He was recruited by G.A. Mangus.
The final two were the Gamecocks and Hawkeyes, and the deciding factor wasn't football.
"The Gamecocks won out. I didn’t think the decision was going to be that hard. It really was," he said. "The final decision wasn’t because of the football team. It was coach [Curtis] Frye and the track team. With me being a two-sport athlete, I wanted to run track in college. I narrowed it down to two, and it was South Carolina and Iowa. And I just felt that South Carolina’s track team, opportunity-wise, that I was going to have a better opportunity there."
Byrd is the Gamecocks' 21st commitment and the second at receiver. The other is K.J. Brent, a 6-foot-4, 185-pounder from Marvin Ridge (N.C.).
At 5-9, Byrd admitted that height isn't among his trademarks.
"Speed and knowledge of the game really help me a lot," he said.
He ran a digitally timed 4.26 40-yard dash at a Nike combine last spring, the fastest time ever run at one of those events. He routinely runs in the 4.3s and has posted a 10.4 in the 100-meter dash.
“He’s absolutely electrifying,” Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson said. “He’s playing all over the field: quarterback, slot, outside receiver, single back, punt return, kick return and corner. He’s on the field the entire game with the exception of kickoff team. Everyone knows he’s getting the ball. The other coaching staff is screaming, 'Byrd, Byrd, Byrd,' and he’s still getting the job done.”
In college, Byrd expects to play receiver.
He had 28 Division 1 offers. He said he had planned to wait on signing day to announce his decision but felt it was right to go ahead and do it now.