They said he was too short, and everybody knew he couldn't play quarterback at the next level.
But he had one thing that nobody could deny: the ability to flat-out dazzle.
Jairus Byrd played a plethora of positions for Clayton High School in the St. Louis area—and regardless of where he played, he shined. Quarterback was his primary spot, but this amazing athlete also played Running Back, Wide Receiver, Defensive Back, Punter, and Kicker. He almost single-handedly delivered his school the Class 4-A state title as a senior—and then received very little attention from colleges.
Byrd, whose father is an NFL secondary coach and whose brother Gill played Division I ball at New Mexico State, clearly had the "it" factor about him. Anybody who actually took the time to watch him play knew that he was something special. Whether he was shifting in high gear between the tackles or blowing up a player in the secondary, the kid was the real deal.
But back in 2005, as the 20th-ranked player in the state of Missouri, Byrd found himself getting almost no attention from the local state school, University of Missouri. In fact, no school in the Midwest was very interested. Not hearing from Big 12 schools, Byrd finally chose to play at the University of Oregon.
After redshirting in his first season at Eugene, Byrd started to catch many eyes as a cornerback/rover type of player for the Ducks. The previously "diminutive" Byrd grew to a respectable, if not ideal, six-foot frame and 208 pounds of 4.5 speed with top-notch technique and ball skills.
Five interceptions as a redshirt freshman earned him a starting spot, and seven more as a sophomore earned him All-Pac-10 honors. Now Byrd is poised for big things this season. As a junior, alongside talented teammates Patrick Chung and Walter Thurmond, Byrd has a chance to crack the All-America lineup at season's end.
Recently named as the 19th-best secondary player in the country, the sky is the limit for Byrd. People claim that he might be too small to play in the NFL, but the stats speak for themselves.
Don't take my word for it. Watch him play this year. For a kid that was only a two-star prospect out of the halls of CHS, this guy never fails to prove his doubters wrong.