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October 26, 2004North Augusta ATH C.J. Byrd (6-3, 189, 4.49) returned from his official visit to Southern Cal on Monday night and said he enjoyed it.
North Augusta ATH C.J. Byrd (6-3, 189, 4.49) returned from his official visit to Southern Cal on Monday night and said he enjoyed it.
"They have great players, compete for national championships and have sunny weather year-round," Byrd said. "It only took me a few minutes to figure out why they recruit so well.
"I really had a great time. It went better than I expected. I got to spend a lot of time with the coaches. They let me know they really want me, which I appreciated, but they didn't put any pressure on me to commit, which I also appreciated."
"Southern Cal is a great school and I am glad I took the trip. Now I just have to go check out some other schools to compare them to."
Byrd has tentatively set up an official visit with Clemson for the second week of January and is still working out the dates with his two other finalists – Georgia and Florida State.
Byrd said he is undecided on where he now stands with his fifth finalist, Florida, which fired coach Ron Zook on Monday. Said Byrd: "I heard the news when I was going through the airport. You know coaching changes are part of the business, but I had really grown close to (defensive coordinator) Charlie Strong. He is one of the main reasons I liked the Gators.
"I don't know exactly what I am going to do with Florida … I might plug another school in that fifth spot or I might wait to see who they hire as coach. It just happened on Monday, so I haven't really thought about it, other than I am sad to see Coach Strong go."
Byrd predicated bigger schools will soon be heavily recruited his teammate, WR Justin Wheeler (6-2, 180, 4.49), who is a basketball standout who went out for the football for the first time his senior year. Wheeler has football offers from Duke and Vanderbilt.
"Justin said he had a great time visiting Duke last weekend, so he could end up there," Byrd said. "But I really think a lot more offers are coming. He is extremely talented and has great grades; if he wouldn't have given up football in the ninth grade, he would have as many offers as anyone right now. Someone is going to get a steal with him."
Wheeler, who had 7 catches for 56 yards in the loss to South Aiken last Friday, will make an unofficial visit to South Carolina this weekend. Byrd, who has fully recovered from an ankle sprain and had 19 tackles and one interception in the same game, said he is undecided but considering to go watch the Gamecocks play Tennessee.
UGA and Michigan have requested additional film of Wheeler in recent days.