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March 7, 2004
North Augusta's C.J. Byrd, who is a candidate to be South Carolina's top prospect for next year, made an unofficial visit to Clemson for Junior Day on Saturday and said he was "treated like royalty."
"It was a great experience ... it was the first of many colleges I plan to visit this spring, and it's hard to imagine many other schools being more impressive than Clemson," Byrd said.
Byrd, who is affectionately called "Big Byrd" for his good-natured attitude and tall but muscular build, spent two separate sessions talking one-on-one with Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden.
"Coach Bowden was laid back and very personal; he knew a lot about me and told me that I could get everything (the recruiting process) over with and commit right then and right there," Byrd said with a smile. "I like Clemson, but I need to visit other schools to have something to compare it to."
What else did Bowden say?
"He said he loved my junior tape, turned it off after four plays and told his assistants to offer me a scholarship. He said he loved the way I tackle ... how I was so aggressive and just exploded into people at the point of contact. They like me on either side of the ball, but I think they need me more at WR, which is fine with me. I'll play anywhere."
Byrd was at Clemson with numerous prospects across the Southeast, including two other South Carolina WR's -- Conway's Eric Huggins and Marlboro County's Rendrick Taylor. Byrd said the Clemson staff told the threesome that WR was state's top position for college talent for the upcoming year.
"(Huggins) and (Taylor) were great guys ... I'm sure I will see a lot of them over the next few months at various colleges," Byrd said. "I hope they have great seasons. I wish them the best."
"Big Byrd" said Clemson assistants chanted his nickname several times during the visit. Byrd said "I thought it was funny. They made me laugh."
The 6-foot-3, 184-pound Byrd has tentatively scheduled other visits this spring for Auburn on March 13, Tennessee or South Carolina on March 20, and Georgia on April 3. He already has seven scholarship offers, the latest two coming from Clemson and Georgia last Wednesday. Byrd is expected to hear from Tennessee, Maryland and Notre Dame this week, among others, and is getting mail on a routine basis from more than 40 colleges.
"Big Byrd" is one of the state's two nominees for next years' U.S. Army All-America Bowl, which consists of the nation's top 78 seniors.