Roscoe Byrd: UAB transfer comes to fill in gaps

Layne Saliba

If you follow college football, you’ve most likely already heard the news that the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees decided to shut down the football program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Dec. 2.

Due to a lack of funds, the UAB football program was terminated at the finish of the 2014-2015 season, a decision that hasn’t been made in the Football Bowl Subdivision since 1995. This came as a shock to many people and created a sort of numbness among the UAB players, coaches, students and community.

Following the news, videos taken by players during the announcement began to surface. These videos showed the players’ raw emotions and the fans’ uncensored thoughts towards the Board of Trustees. Although this meeting made the decision official, players already knew it was coming. Unfortunately, they had to hear it first on Twitter. Anger continued to rise with every word that came from the mouth of the university’s president. But, each word fell short of being a good explanation.

One of the biggest questions that arose after the program was shut down was what the players would do. Do they continue on scholarship at UAB without football? Or would they follow their dream at a new college in hopes of playing football at the next level?

The NCAA made a move that made that question a little easier for the UAB football players to answer. They permitted the athletes to transfer to other schools and forego the mandatory one year of transfer ineligibility by allowing the players to begin play immediately if they choose to do so. These players were even able to have contact with schools during the dead-period that usually takes place during December and January.

After this news, Georgia Southern took a look at the players that UAB had to offer. One of the UAB players that received an offer from Georgia Southern is offensive lineman Roscoe Byrd. Luckily for the Eagles, Byrd decided to accept that offer and make a new home in Statesboro. He will be a much needed addition to the offensive line for the upcoming season.

”It just felt extremely comfortable here. When I came here on a visit, it just was better than I had expected. I had originally planned to just come here for a day,” Byrd said. “But when I got here and got the feel for the place, I actually decided to stay another night to see some more stuff about the university.”

It was not an easy decision for Byrd, however. He received many offers which included South Alabama where his former offensive coordinator was hired and many of his former teammates decided to commit. He also received offers from Troy, Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky.

“I couldn’t think straight. You build a bond with these guys over three seasons, and the stuff that we had to go through to finally start seeing things pay off and start to get stuff turned around, and then it’s like you hit a brick wall. I just can’t really put it into words. It’s just crazy,” Byrd said.

The 6-foot-3, 319-pound senior from Albany, Ga. spent his first season at UAB playing on the defensive line. After seeing action in 10 games at defensive tackle that season, Byrd was moved to the offensive front during the 2013 spring practice.

The coaches were apparently impressed with the change because he became a starter at offensive guard for the first eight games of the 2013 season before a leg injury forced him to sit out for the remaining four games. Following the injury, Byrd came back at full strength and played all 12 games of the 2014 season.

“I want to play football. That was one of the reasons I went to UAB. If I wanted to be a regular student, I could have done that at Albany State or Darton College. But I went to UAB not only to get a degree but to play football. So I knew that after all this happened I had to go find another place to play football,” Byrd said.

Now, Byrd has fallen into the hands of Alex Atkins, Georgia Southern’s offensive line coach, and will have one year of eligibility remaining. There is no denying that Georgia Southern must have a solid offensive front in order to execute their run-based offense successfully. Unfortunately, a lot of that talent is graduating. So, the addition of Roscoe Byrd is much needed and could not have come at a better time for the Eagles.

“I think that this is how a football program is supposed to be. You got your on-campus stadium, great fan base, students love being here, coach loves being here, everybody supports it and it’s in a great city. Everybody lives and breathes Georgia Southern football. You don’t see Georgia Bulldogs, you don’t see Georgia Tech. Everything around here is Georgia Southern and that’s how college football is supposed to be,” Byrd said.