- Bob Przybylo, Reporter, RecruitingNation
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There’s always going to be a positive feeling for Oklahoma fans when it comes to Fresno (Calif.) Central East safety Hatari Byrd.
Byrd committed exactly when the Sooners needed some good news, as ESPN 150 running back Greg Bryant had decommitted from OU the previous day.
He committed without seeing the campus. His official visit sealed the deal, as Byrd never seriously considered looking at other schools.
Prior to his arrival on campus, Byrd spoke to SoonerNation one more time to discuss the potential Fresno pipeline developing.
SN: Any idea what jersey you’re going to wear?
Byrd: I don’t know what jersey. I have no idea. I don’t really care. I just want to work.
SN: What have the coaches told you about your potential role this season?
Byrd: Playing free safety, so there’s a good chance I can get in there and play early. With Tony Jefferson leaving early, it left a spot open. I know I can be that guy.
SN: With that in mind, did that change the way you worked this spring?
Byrd: It has. My training has gotten so intense. I’m just focused on the next level. I’m getting bigger and faster. Work -- that’s all I do. Running every day. Hitting the weights. Doing all the little things.
SN: When did you know in your heart OU was the place for you?
Byrd: I knew right when I committed. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t seen the campus yet. I already knew I was going to some place far from home, so it didn’t matter to me. The atmosphere. The thought of playing in front of 80,000 fans. It gets me pumped just talking about it.
SN: What do you expect during your first year at OU?
Byrd: It’s going to be a big change. The biggest difference I expect is with the game speed. It’s going to be a whole ‘nother level with the speed.
SN: Who have you developed a relationship with that’s on the team already?
Byrd: Wide receiver Jalen Saunders. We have a pretty good relationship. He was from Fresno, too, and he was a big factor during my visit last year.
SN: When you leave OU, what do you want your legacy to be?
Byrd: Ooh, that’s kind of a hard one. That I left everything I had at OU and tried to get better every day. There was a reason they recruited me, and I showed everybody what I’m all about.
SN: You and L.J. are coming to Norman. OU would love to add ESPN 150 athlete Michiah Quick to that equation. How much are you trying to encourage Michiah to join you?
Byrd: I talk to him a lot about the recruiting process, but I’m leaving him alone now. I want him to follow his heart, but I always put that OU in his head. I think he wants to play football with us.
SN: A big influence in your life has been Fresno Central East defensive backs coach Tony Perry. Can you put into perspective what he has meant to you?
Byrd: I can’t even say any more about what he has meant to me. He has done so much for me. From the training on the field to the guidance off the field, it’s unreal. He means so much to me.
SN: Does this feel real to you yet? How hard you’ve had to work to get here and all the personal issues you had to overcome?
Byrd: Every now and then I stop and think about it. I can’t wait to get it done. This is what I want to do with my career. It’s an incredible blessing, and I’m very thankful for everything I’ve got. I can’t wait to say I’m doing it. Not that I’m going to do it but that I’m doing it -- living my dream.