When Caleb Byrd tabbed Georgia Southern as his first official visit, he didn’t know at the time that less than a week later, he would be making his college commitment known via social media.
The No. 4 ranked guard in the state and soon-to-be senior at Newton County High School stepped foot on Georgia Southern’s campus for the first time last weekend and left knowing that was where he wanted to be, despite having several other Division 1 programs clamoring for his services.
“I was going to take some more official visits, but I didn’t know that (Georgia Southern) was going to be like that,” Byrd said. “I didn’t want to waste time. I just wanted to go ahead and make it official. Everything has worked out how it was supposed to. I love my commitment.”
The 5-foot-10 guard burst onto the radar of D-1 programs last season while playing at Rome High School. It was a 51-point performance against Forest Park in the War Eagle Classic at Woodward Academy in front of a Georgia Southern assistant coach that got him on their radar.
After receiving an official offer from the Eagles on March 28, the two parties have been in constant contact ever since.
“(Georgia Southern) had been recruiting me for awhile,” Byrd said. “They’ve been really great to me. They’ve always communicated through my parents and through me, a lot. I really felt comfortable around the coaches.”
Byrd’s first introduction to the team was at an Eagles game against rival Georgia State last season. It was there that Byrd realized their playing style fit what he was trying to do at the next level. He also got a look at standout Tookie Brown, a senior guard for the Eagles that was coached by Charlemagne Gibbons at Morgan County, who is now Byrd’s coach at Newton.
While Brown had no direct effect on Byrd’s decision to commit to Georgia Southern, it didn’t hurt the Eagles chances of landing the star guard, either.
“Tookie is a great player,” Byrd said. “He’s a great point guard and just seeing his success was great. Georgia Southern has produced a lot of pro’s that people don’t know about. A lot of guards have gone pro and they’re really good on the guard side.”
Georgia Southern’s campus, located in Statesboro, Georgia, and the players themselves only further sold Byrd on why he should commit after his visit.
“The campus was great,” Byrd said. “Everyone there just felt like they were being themselves, especially the team. I wanted to be the best fit all the way around and it felt like a family environment. They made me feel like family when I first stepped foot on campus. I could just be myself around everyone.”
Being able to play in his home state of Georgia also played a role in Byrd’s decision. While it wasn’t a dealbreaker, it was an added bonus, he said.
“It just kind of worked out that way, but I am happy that I can represent my state and stay in Georgia,” Byrd said. “It’s not too far for my parents to come and support me, of course. That was everything to me to me, honestly. Being able to rep my home state was a big factor, actually.”
After taking the state by storm as a junior at Rome, the former Conyers native is ready to put his recruitment behind him and focus on his upcoming senior season at Newton where he has big goals set.
“I can just go out and have fun,” Byrd said. “I don’t really have to worry about everything. I can just go out there and have fun and try to reach my main goals which are two put two banners. A region banner and a state banner.”
Most importantly, though, Byrd had an opportunity to hear from many people close to him on Thursday after making his announcement public.
“It’s been great to hear from a lot of people,” Byrd said. “From coaches that have coached me since I was younger, friends that I have known for a long time and from family. I’m really feeling good and I’m really trying to enjoy this moment because I know it only comes one time in your life. Many people don’t get to see this day and be able to commit to a Division 1 school, so I just thank God for this opportunity.”