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Manzano athlete Byrd’s profile soars after combine

It’s shopping season, and Jordan Byrd, like so many high school football players, is taking on a dual role: merchandise and consumer.

It was about this time last year when Los Lunas tailback O’maury Samuels ascended, almost meteorically, from promising regional prospect to the list of must-have national recruits.

The 2017 cycle is in full bloom, and Manzano High School’s Byrd, the state’s two-time defending state champion in the 100-meter dash, is fully immersed. Earlier this month, the junior attended Nike Football’s The Opening regional combine in Dallas. It’s a major step in the ongoing courtship for some athletes, and perhaps a first step in a recruitment by others.

To wit: New Mexico and San Diego State had already extended scholarship offers before Dallas. After, Byrd said, Texas Tech and Utah offered.

They are courting him, and he, to an extent, them.

Manzano's Jordan Byrd, center, races to victory in the Class 6A 100 meters over Volcano Vista's Alejandro Goldston, left, and Cibola's Jacob Smith, right, at the 2016 state track and field meet. (Marla Brose/Journal)

Manzano’s Jordan Byrd, center, races to victory in the Class 6A 100 meters over Volcano Vista’s Alejandro Goldston, left, and Cibola’s Jacob Smith, right, at the 2016 state track and field meet. (Marla Brose/Journal)

“I’m going to different schools to see what kind of chemistry I have with the coaches and players and see which school I’ll fall in love with,” said Byrd, who turns 17 on April 7.

In three weeks, Byrd will make an unofficial, two-day visit to San Diego State, the school Byrd said has shown more interest in him than any other.

“They said they can play me anywhere,” Byrd said. “They offered me as an athlete.”

Byrd last season played quarterback, running back and receiver for the Monarchs, and also is a punt and kick returner. He started the first two games last season at free safety, but Manzano, wanting to keep him healthy and rested, limited him to just offense the remainder of the season.

Byrd’s father, Lamont, said an Aztecs coach told him that “Jordan reminded them of the back they had (Donnel Pumphrey) that just set the NCAA record. Same size and same speed.”

Also, Lamont Byrd said, “they don’t want the Lobos to get him.”

So much remains up in the air. Should Byrd receive an invitation to the Nike national combine in Oregon later this year (that invite list isn’t expected for a few weeks yet), and he believes he will, his profile would receive a considerable boost.

And that profile already is tantalizing. The Monarchs’ 5-foot-9½, 166-pound speedster, whom many project as a slot receiver at the next level, won an untimed Fastest Man competition in Dallas in the 40-yard dash between the four assumed speediest guys there.

Oregon State and Washington State both are circling Byrd at the moment. So is Cal, which is scheduled to come next month for an in-home visit.

But there is no definite time line for him to choose his school. Recent examples cover a wide spectrum. Among the Class of 2017, Samuels committed to Michigan in early April of last year, not long after his appearance at the same regional combine in Dallas. But Volcano Vista wide receiver David Cormier waited until January, just nine days before the signing period began, to decide on Air Force.

Regarding the Lobos’ offer, “They’re a serious part of my thinking,” Byrd said. “Because I’ve been here forever, and I have good chemistry with the wide receivers coach and the head coach.”

Defense also might be an option as Byrd transitions to college.

“He doesn’t care,” Lamont Byrd said. “He’s a team player. He wants to play wherever they need him. That’s the way he’s always looked at things.”

San Diego State, for example, could deploy Byrd as a cornerback, Jordan Byrd said.

“I would love to play on defense with the Lobos, too,” Byrd said, fully cognizant of the fact that the UNM offense under Davie is almost exclusively a run-first scheme. “That would be a good fit for me, too.”

April will probably be a relatively quiet month for Byrd, aside from his visit to San Diego.

He will have several high-profile track meets with the Monarchs over the next few weeks.

“He’s been pretty much in the spotlight since he was 7 years old, so he knows how to handle it,” Byrd’s father said. “He’s a humble kid. He just has to stay healthy, and keep performing, in the classroom and on the field.”

Byrd numbers

Jordan Byrd, Manzano High junior

4.46: Dallas combine time in 40-yard dash

5-9½: Height

166: Weight

17: Age on his next birthday, April 7

7.5: Average per carry (871 yards, 116 attempts) in 2016

10.77: Time in winning Class 6A 100 meters last May

21.60: Time in winning Class 6A 200 in 2015

10: Ranking among roughly 375 players who attended Nike Football’s The Opening Regional Dallas in early March, per theopening.com.

23: TDs he was responsible for (6 passing, 14 rushing, 3 receiving)

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