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Solomon Byrd’s overlooked journey has finally settled at USC

Extensive prior to his moment lastly arrived, Solomon Byrd was currently fed up with ready.

He was annoyed with the recruiting approach. He was not having the interest he expected. A number of universities, such as Fresno Point out and San Diego State, had revealed fascination but items in no way materialized. He imagined other colleges wouldn’t trouble coming out to the desert, where Byrd starred at Palmdale Knight Higher, not a football electricity.

He took it personally. The summer months before his senior season, Byrd came to USC for a Climbing Stars camp and seethed as he in comparison himself to other best-billed prospective customers in attendance.

“I really needed to get to the upcoming degree,” Byrd reported. “These fellas who had stars and whatsoever, I was playing much better than them. But no give for me.”

The offer you Byrd needed would occur a long time afterwards, major him to USC, where he has emerged over the past two video games as the breakout pass rusher the USC protection so desperately required. Right after opening the time 3rd on the depth chart — and participating in just 5 snaps in his Trojan debut — Byrd is now tied for second in the Pac-12 with three sacks.

With Romello Top continue to nursing a shoulder damage, far more prospect awaits. USC mentor Lincoln Riley not long ago held Byrd up as an “example of what we’re attempting to build”. Alex Grinch, the Trojans’ defensive coordinator, termed him “the poster child” for USC’s defensive way of thinking.

He wasn’t often in that head place. Soon after acquiring handful of university gives, Byrd finished up at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, a faculty recognized a lot more for its land-grant exploration than football.

“I was really immature at the time,” Byrd explained.

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Nevertheless, AJ Cooper observed possible. As the Wyoming defensive line coach, Cooper would assist established Byrd on a distinctive route.

“He was really hard on me,” Byrd recalls.

Wyoming defensive close Solomon Byrd simply cannot rather attain Boise Condition quarterback Chase Twine on Nov. 9, 2019.

(Steve Conner / Linked Press)

It was particularly what he essential. Cooper, who now works at Washington Point out, pushed Byrd in methods he hadn’t been pushed ahead of. He challenged Byrd to ignore every thing outdoors of his command.

The concept stuck.

“He type of made me recognize why I was not exactly where I preferred to be,” Byrd said. “I believe that’s exactly where it hit me, on the lookout inward at myself and realizing that it is not about every thing else. I have to make absolutely sure I’m all the way suitable, before I get any chance.”

So Byrd set out to suitable himself.

It didn’t consider extended. As a redshirt freshman, Byrd received 6½ sacks, rising as one particular of the finest youthful pass rushers in the Mountain West Conference. Obstructions would obscure his alternatives from there. To start with, it was COVID-19, which brought about him to sit out 2020. Then, a shoulder personal injury slash his 2021 year to just eight online games. He even now managed 3½ sacks.

Byrd jokes that the cold of Wyoming hardened his exterior and assisted him increase up. But immediately after a few years in Laramie, he wondered if there could possibly be extra out there. So, he entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal. Within just two months, USC reached out.

But that preliminary interest dried up. He was explained to Riley continue to experienced to consider the roster. Byrd figured they had been just stringing him along.

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“But they genuinely did [evaluate the roster],” Byrd stated. “A good deal of fellas left in the spring.”

Already committed to Ga Tech, Byrd flipped to USC. That summertime, he arrived in Los Angeles a bit out of form, delaying his effect.

“He’s truly had an effect for us. We’re dying to discover these playmakers.”

— USC defensive coordinator Alex Grinch on Solomon Byrd

USC defensive lineman Solomon Byrd celebrates after recovering a fumble by Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener.

USC defensive lineman Solomon Byrd celebrates following recovering a fumble by Fresno Condition quarterback Jake Haener.

(Luis Sinco/VFAB)

“It was tough, not gonna lie,” Byrd said. “I came from Wyoming, and I was a starter and a massive title up there. When I arrived down listed here, there was a lot of talent.”

But this time, Byrd knew how to make the finest of it. He put his head down and worked by the disappointment. He attempted not to feel far too much into the long run. He talked it through with his wife, Taysia. He turned to teammate Nick Figueroa, who instructed him to be client for the reason that, “Your option will come.”

Byrd did not hold out extensive. By Week 2, he was blazing into the Stanford backfield, getting a pair of huge-time sacks. The next 7 days, he burst off the edge early in the next half in opposition to Fresno State and slammed into quarterback Jake Haener, forcing a key fumble and knocking Haener out of the activity.

“Coach Grinch is generally chatting about possibilities and earning the best of them,” linebacker Eric Gentry claimed. “[Byrd] is seriously doing that.”

Grinch added: “He’s truly had an affect for us. We’re dying to locate people playmakers.”

Immediately after USC’s 45-17 earn about Fresno Point out, Riley singled out Byrd’s functionality by offering him the sport ball, a meaningful memento for a player who for so extensive experienced been missed.

Which is no extended the scenario for Byrd. Even though, he has not invested considerably time worrying about that currently.

“I’m just heading to get the job done tough and permit anything else occur as it does.”

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