Tennessee didn’t have to wait until National Signing Day to land one of its top remaining targets in the 2016 class.
Top-100 senior cornerback Tyler Byrd of Naples (Fla.) High School announced Tuesday night on his Periscope account that he has committed to the Vols, switching his commitment from Miami to Tennessee just hours before signing day.
Byrd gave the Vols their 18th known commitment for the 2016 class and their fourth from a projected cornerback, joining four-star Marquill Osborne and three-star Desmond Henderson – two of Tennessee’s early enrollees who already are on campus – and three-star Baylen Buchanan.
The 5-foot-11.5, 194-pound Byrd had been committed to the Hurricanes for one day short of a year, but the Vols were able to steal him away from Miami just two days after he returned home from an official visit to Tennessee.
He’s a close friend and teammate of four-star Tennessee running back commitment Carlin Fils-aime, and the two have lived together since they were in eighth grade.
The 5-foot-11.5, 194-pound Byrd, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 86 overall prospect and No. 10 cornerback in the 247Sports Composite, admitted even before his visit with the Vols last weekend that he “would love” to be Fils-aime’s teammate again in college.
“Being around him, we’re grown to really love each other, and playing next to him and knowing he’s on my team is reassuring,” Byrd said last week. “It gives you a sense of security because … I know at the end of the day I can depend on him, and I know I can trust him.”
Byrd had shown no signs of wavering on his longstanding commitment to Miami until the past few weeks, when Tennessee finally decided to make a late push for Byrd after coveting him for months.
Fils-aime, who has been committed to the Vols since late July, gave them a natural connection to Byrd. And Tennessee’s addition of new tight ends coach Larry Scott, who served as Byrd’s primary recruiter at Miami before joining the Vols last month, might have helped to convince him to take his visit to Tennessee last week.
“Previously meeting him when he was at Miami, he was also a person I built a relationship with, and he’s also that person that I could trust because of knowing him previously and knowing him for almost two years now,” Byrd said last week.
“I would’ve taken (the Tennessee visit) if he was there or not. But with him there, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh, I will for sure take that.'”