The New Mexico Lobos have gone heavily for versatility in assembling their 2013 football recruiting class, obtaining commitments from several high school players who have excelled on both offense and defense.
Markel Byrd, a 5-foot-11, 173-pound athlete from Horizon Christian Academy in San Diego, might well be the most versatile future Lobo yet.
Byrd on Sunday announced via Twitter that he has committed to UNM. He becomes, unofficially, the 22nd commitment the Lobos have toward their limit of 25.
All commitments are non-binding until a signed letter of intent is received by the school. Signing day is Wednesday.
This past season, Byrd did almost everything a football player can do except kick field goals and extra points.
As a quarterback, according to MaxPreps, he completed 117 of 206 passes for 1,932 yards and 25 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He also rushed 82 times for 417 yards and 12 TDs in leading Horizon to an 8-4 record.
As a defensive back, he was in on 40 tackles and had five interceptions.
There’s more. Byrd returned nine punts for an 18.6-yard average and punted — that’s right, punted — 19 times for a 40.7-yard average.
No statistics were available on how much popcorn Byrd sold at halftime.
Chris Johnson, Byrd’s coach at Horizon, told the website 247Sports before the 2012 season that Byrd had outstanding instincts as a defensive back.
“We call him Captain Chaos,” Johnson said. “When a play breaks down, that’s when he’s at his best.
“He reads coverages very well, he understands coverages very well, but when the play breaks down, he’s not afraid to make a play.”
Byrd was named to the MaxPreps California Division IV all-state first team as an athlete (position not designated).
He also plays basketball, averaging 8.5 points and 2.7 assists this season through 15 games.
According to online scouting services, Byrd also had scholarship offers from Eastern Washington and Weber State. He drew some early interest from Arizona State and Washington State, but it’s believed New Mexico’s was his only NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision offer.
— This article appeared on page B5 of the Albuquerque Journal