ChatLSU.com's writer Campbell Mckeogh was able to to catch up with former LSU star wide receiver Demetrius Byrd for an exclusive interview. Byrd discusses his life after his near fatal car accident in 2009, his plans to graduate from LSU, and a possible return to the NFL.
Campbell Mckeogh, ChatLSU.com
"Demetrius, I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to answer some questions for us. Demetrius, you have had a crazy journey since you left LSU. You went from being drafted to almost losing your life in a tragic auto accident. Can you please say a few things on what a struggle it has been and how things have changed for you?"
Demetrius Byrd, former LSU standout -
"To begin with, man, things are always going to be hard. There is not anything you will want that comes easy. The struggle is going to go on within everybody. No matter if you are playing in the NFL or just going to school, you are going to struggle. I am a living testimony, just showing people not to give up."
CM: As more opportunities open for you, do you feel there is a greater importance to getting your degree now?
DB: I was supposed to be a high draft pick; a lot of people don’t know I was supposed to go in the late second round. Then I had my accident and I don’t even remember what happened during the wreck. I went from being a good draft pick to being in a coma. I was fighting for my life. I did not know what to do after I had gotten out of the coma. All I said to myself was, “I need to hurry up and get out of here and go play some football.” That was the biggest thing on my mind, to play football again. Finally, when I got out of the coma, I did everything, including therapy and working hard, just to start walking because I could not walk. I could not even stand up, and I am still having problems on my left side due to the brain injury I have received. I am fighting to get back.
I had made a contract with my mom to go back to school, because I had left school early. She said to me when I was released by the San Diego Chargers, “You remember that contract we had?” So, as much as I hate school, I went back.
CM: You have chosen to complete your degree at LSU. What is it like to be a LSU student as opposed to an LSU student athlete?
DB: It’s a big difference when you are an LSU student athlete. You go to class, but at the end of the week you know there will be a big game.
You look forward to going to practice. So, being a regular student is nothing like being an LSU student athlete.
CM: What is the best memory you have from playing at LSU? Most fans would answer that it must be the catch against Auburn, but I want to know if there is another more personal moment for you, a moment not any fan would ever know?
DB: The biggest thing is the 'Bama game. We went up to Bama and I just exploded in that game. Actually, that was my career high game. I had six catches for 144 yards and a TD. That was the most memorable game. Why? Because we were losing, and it was looking like 'Bama was going to win. But we came back on them which I will never forget. That was a sweet victory. Everyone would say Auburn but I am going to say the 'Bama game.
CM: To also talk about that catch against Auburn: you obviously were the hot route and you had been beating that corner off the line all night. Did you feel that the play was a score if you got separation?
DB: No, actually, I was not the hot route. The play was 144GO, which means the outside receiver has a “go” route. To be honest I thought he was going to go to Early Doucet and not give me a shot at that. If you see it on Youtube, I did not come off the ball as hard with a good release because I thought it was going to early. But when it did not go to early, I picked my head up and saw the ball coming and I said “ time to make a play.” So, that’s what I did.
CM:And did you see the ball the whole time?
DB: Only when I turned around did I see the ball.
CM: Did Matt give you a nudge or anything in the huddle because it appears he was looking at you the whole time?
DB: He probably was but he did not give me a nudge or anything. He saved me from the sideline but he did not tell me anything.
CM: You ended up trapping the ball right?
DB: Yeah, because when I caught the ball, I trapped his arm in between the ball and myself. I said, “I am either going to keep the ball or rip his hand off."
CM: You grew up playing Pop Warner in Miami for the Miami Lake Jaguars. What was that like?
DB: That was a big time experience for me because it was just my second year of playing football.
DB: The year before my first season playing, I played for a park called Scott Lake. There I played QB. I then went to Miami Lakes and that is where I started to play receiver and learned to use my speed to get down field. I knew I was fast; I just could not play until my senor season in high school because of grades. I knew I had it; I just had to get qualified to show it.
CM: Please discuss why you opted to go to Pearl River CC over FIU?
DB: It was because of grades. I had some offers. Miami had wanted me to come down. Their coach, DJ, who is now with the Saints, asked me to come to Miami. Then my coach at LSU, DJ McCarthy, told me that after he saw my tape and learned of my grades he threw my tape up against the wall. I committed to FIU and when I signed, the coach called me and said, “You know you will not qualify and you are going to have to go to a prep school.” So, I had the coach at FIU call up one of the prep schools and I had everything qualified and ready. When I went there, they did not let me start. They had some guy in my position and one day the guy missed for court or something. I bet he wished he hadn’t because when I got my shot I never looked back.
CM: I remember watching you race a guy on a bicycle, and I could tell you loved to run and run aggressively?
DB: Oh, yeah, that was Stephon Francois. It was right outside of the West Campus Apartments. I was just bored and wanted to run, so I raced him. I had him beat until about three steps to the finish.
CM: Where you living these days? Are you spending most of your of time in Miami, Baton Rouge or New Orleans?
DB: I would not mind going back to South Beach, but I can’t answer that until after I graduate from LSU. Once you graduate, a bunch of doors open up.
CM: Would you ever consider coaching?
DB: Oh, indeed.
CM: What do you have planned for the immediate future?
DB: If I can make a return to the NFL, then I will. I am going try to make a comeback. The ultimate goal is to graduate, and, if I can get my body in shape, I will make a run at the NFL.
CM: Do you have any “shout outs” or do you want to say anything to LSU fans?
DB: "What I want to say to all LSU fans? I love you guys, you all showed me love throughout my 2 years at LSU and after. The fans have supported me. That just moves me and makes me want to stay in Baton Rouge because the fans treat us with such respect."
Thank you, Demetrius.
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