|Wide receiver Damiere Byrd could play a larger role in South Carolina's offense this season.|
THIBODAUX, La. -- South Carolina wide receiver Damiere Byrd's reputation as one of the fastest players in college football -- and, certainly, the fastest South Carolina Gamecock -- was solidified Monday when the rising senior clocked a 4.30 40-yard dash, according to Gamecocks quarterback Dylan Thompson.
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"We ran Monday at 7 a.m., and he went 4.30," Thompson said Friday at the Manning Passing Academy. "And it's accurate. Bruce (Ellington) ran 4.44 at our place, and ran 4.45 at the combine, so it's not just some number we're throwing out."
As a track star who could have earned a college scholarship for his sprinting ability alone, Byrd's status as the fastest player on the football team is nothing new. However, a 4.30 clocking is a strong indication that he has recovered well from the knee surgery that precluded him from spring practice. Byrd's best reported 40 time, dating back to last year, is a 4.26. At just 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, it hasn't always been easy for him to translate that speed into production on the field. Byrd caught just 14 passes as a sophomore in 2012, but averaged better than 26 yards per catch.
South Carolina players testing in the 40-yard dash is apparently a regular occurrence in July. Last summer, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said at SEC Media Days that he ran a 4.46 in recent team testing.
Byrd started 10 games last season for the Gamecocks, catching 33 passes for 575 yards. This year, with Ellington a member of the San Francisco 49ers as a fourth-round draft pick, Byrd will be called on to fill some of the void left by Ellington. He'll do it with speed that makes him virtually impossible to overthrow, Thompson said, on deep passes.
"You'd better be nice and loose when you get back there with him," Thompson said.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.