Jairus Byrd # DB
Height: 5-10 Weight: 203 Age: 27
Born: 10/7/1986 San Diego , CA
Experience: 6th season
High School: Clayton HS [MO]
Selected By: Buffalo Bills
Pick (Overall): 10 (42)
Byrd is just the seventh Oregon player since 1997 to leave early for the National Football League. However, he has a good mentor and role model to help him adjust to life as a professional football player in his father, Gill Byrd. Gill was a 1983 first-round draft pick out of San Jose State who was a two-time Pro Bowl selection while playing cornerback for the San Diego Chargers (1983-92).
His father then went on to join the coaching ranks, serving as the secondary coach for the St. Louis Rams (2003-05) before joining the Chicago Bears staff as a defensive quality control coach in 2006. Jairus can also listen to advice from his older brother, Gill Jr., who was a defensive back at New Mexico State (2004-06).
Besides those strong bloodlines, the younger Byrd made a nice reputation for himself in just three seasons playing for the Ducks. An outstanding coverage cornerback with the soft, natural hands his father displayed during his playing days, Jairus ranks fourth in school history with 53 pass deflections, including 22 as a sophomore, the second-highest season total in Oregon annals. He also placed second all-time in Ducks lore with 17 interceptions.
At Clayton High School, to merely hint that the Missouri 4A Offensive Player of the Year played a large role in leading the Greyhounds to the 2004 state championship would be a gross understatement. He willed the school to a 13-1 ledger as a quarterback, safety, wide receiver and on special teams to aid the march to the Suburban East Conference title.
Byrd ranked fourth in the state in scoring (158 points), as he rushed for 1,480 yards (seventh in the state) while averaging 8.76 yards per carry and scoring 26 touchdowns his senior season. In addition, he passed for another 1,038 yards (65-128) and 13 scores.
On defense, Byrd was afforded first-team All-State accolades as his team's second-leading tackler, posting 71 stops (60 solos) along with seven interceptions (fifth in the state), three sacks and two fumble recoveries. He completed his "total package" with six catches for 125 yards (20.8 avg), 10 kickoff returns (30.1 avg), 15 returned punts (13.3 avg), in addition to punting the football 18 times for a 37.6-yard clip.
Byrd spent the 2005 season honing his defensive skills on Oregon's scout team. He was named to the program's Lou Casanova Award (top newcomer) and selected Pac-10 Conference co-Freshman Player of the Year in 2006, starting 11 games at left cornerback. The Freshman All-American adding All-Pac 10 honorable mention, as he ranked sixth on the team with 56 tackles (40 solos). He paced the Ducks with five pass thefts and broke up 12 other throws.
As a sophomore, Byrd was again selected All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention. The left cornerback delivered 64 tackles (43 solos), along with four stops for loss. His 22 pass deflections rank second on the school single-season record list. He led the league and ranked ninth in the nation with seven interceptions, the sixth highest total in school history. His total of 29 passes defended ranked third in the NCAA ranks. He also filled in at times as a punt returner, averaging 9.0 yards on seven chances.
Byrd elevated his game in 2008. The All-Pac 10 Conference first-team choice recorded a career-high 83 tackles (60 solos). He ranked third in the league with five interceptions and with his punt return average of 12.31 yards, as he had 26 attempts that included one return for a touchdown. He led the team with 19 pass breakups, finishing second in the Pac-10 and third in the nation with 26 total passes defended.