Byrd has explosive speed, which almost certainly will guarantee him playing time this fall. But Tennessee coach Butch Jones said after practice on Friday that Byrd must work toward making consistent plays.
“He’s been out here, I think he’s greatly improved from the spring,” Jones said. “Again, consistency, with just everyone, we are hunting for consistency on every single snap. I think he’s made great strides from the summer, and he’s competing for playing time.”
Byrd caught 15 passes for 209 yards and rushed for 63 yards on eight carries last season. He played in every game.
Jauan Jennings has entrenched himself as the No. 1 option for the Vols at wide receiver, but the rest of the position group appears to be open.
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Jones said the competition at wide receiver has remained one of the most tightly contested position battles in fall camp.
“It is the wide receiver position, and they are competing every day,” Jones said. “The great thing is, they’re coming out here, and they know they can’t miss a rep because of the competition at those spots.”
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Most impressive group
Tennessee offensive coordinator Larry Scott said Thursday at a media availability the wide receivers have impressed the most.
“I tell you, I think right now it’s probably been more the receiver group,” Scott said. “Being that there are some young guys in there that played a little last year, now they’re in some roles that have picked up for them.”
Byrd is battling for playing time with Josh Smith, Brandon Johnson and Marquez Callaway. Smith, a senior, has the only real game experience in the group.
A game-breaking talent like Byrd could prove very valuable with the season opener against Georgia Tech less than a month away on Sept. 4. Tennessee will trot out a new quarterback and having playmakers around him will be imperative.