Willie Byrn called primary recruiter Curt Newsome on Monday to accept Virginia Tech’s offer as a recruited walk-on. The 5-11, 175-pound First Colonial (Virginia Beach, VA) senior also had recruited walk-on opportunities at Kentucky and Virginia, but the success Virginia Tech has enjoyed under head coach Frank Beamer won out.
“Definitely a big factor is that Virginia Tech is a top 10 program almost every year,” Byrn said. “They end up at least going to the ACC Championship game, so it’s nice to get love from such a big school. I wanted to go somewhere with a great atmosphere and it’s really hard to compete with Tech’s atmosphere. All the fans are great. ‘Enter Sandman,’ it’s all great.”
Confident he could’ve gotten scholarship money on some level, Byrn embraced the challenge of playing high-major football.
“My dream has always been to play big-time football in front of a crazy crowd,” Byrn said. “I like playing with the best.”
He added, “It did seem a little bit tougher to make this decision. You have to look at these schools, but you have to make sure they are really interested and not just filling out the practice squad. It is definitely a plus to think that people like Cody Grimm have had success coming in as a walk-on. Once I get on the field, it doesn’t matter where you came from or how you got there. All I wanted is a fair shot. I’ll do the rest.”
Byrn visited Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia in the past few weeks before making a decision. He enjoyed his trip to Charlottesville last Thursday, but in the end, “Tech just felt right,” he said.
Byrn led First Colonial in all-purpose yardage, scored 11 touchdowns and had four interceptions in 2009. He earned first-team all-Beach district honors at kick returner and second-team honors at running back. Byrn, who was also a second-team all-Tidewater selection as a kick returner, is being recruited by Tech as a punt returner/wide receiver.
“Coach Beamer and coach Newsome told me a number of different times that I could come in and compete at least for the number two punt returner spot,” Byrn said. “When I visited I met coach Sherman. He talked about how they like to stretch downfield and give their playmakers a chance...
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