Carrlon Byrd, Ricky Byrd’s 12-year-old son, is wearing his father’s number in his first year as a member of the Lee Middle School football team. He poses with his head coach, Lee Davis, before today’s 4:30 p.m. game. Photo by: Adam Minichino
October 11, 2010 11:21:00 AM
The number 75 remains special to Ricky Byrd.
From 1987-90, Byrd wore that number with pride as a member of the Mississippi State football team. He wore it so well he earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1989 and first-team All-SEC and third-team All-America accolades at offensive guard, all from the Associated Press, in 1990.
These days, though, another Byrd is showing his prowess in the same number.
Carrlon Byrd, Ricky''s 12-year-old son, is wearing his father''s number in his first year as a member of the Lee Middle School football team. Byrd will be on the field at 4:30 p.m. today when the Lee Middle School teams take on New Hope. The seventh-grade game will be followed by the eighth-grade game at 5:30 p.m. and the ninth-grade game.
"It brings back big memories (to see Carrlon wear No. 75)," said Byrd, who is an assistant manager for Regions Bank in Columbus. "I hope it is as lucky for him as it was for me."
Seeing Carrlon wear his old number is only part of the trip down memory lane for Ricky. Lee Davis, Byrd''s former Mississippi State football teammate, is coaching Carrlon and the rest of the Lee Middle Schoolers.
"Coach Davis was a leader at Mississippi State," Ricky Byrd said. "He would give 110 percent as a player. If you went down on kickoffs, you knew he would have your back and he wasn''t going to let them get through.
"I believe if Carrlon listens to him he will become a leader."
Davis, Cody Rader, David Nelson, Jonathon West, Patrick Holmes, and Doug Beddies are the coaches for the Lee Middle School teams. Davis took over as seventh- and eighth-grade coach when Jack French left to take a head coaching job. He conducted spring drills with the players, which he said gave him an opportunity to get to the kids and to install an offense.
"I have a great group of kids," said Davis, who last was a head football coach at Heritage Academy. "They are very hardworking and eager to get better. We are proud of the success they are enjoying."
Davis is especially proud of the chance he has to coach Carrlon. He said his claim to fame was he had a chance to "run around on special teams" in 1987-88 at MSU. In that time, he played with Byrd, who started as a defensive lineman and moved to the offensive line. They also shared time on special teams.
Davis believes this is the first time he has coached a son of a former MSU teammate.
"Carrlon plays left tackle for us, and he understands the game," Davis said. "Ricky understood the game and had a high football IQ. (Carrlon) is the same way. He does good in school, he plays hard, and if you teach him one thing he takes it to heart and he does a good job for us."
Carrlon feels there is still some luck in No. 75. He knows his father, who went on to play one year with the NFL''s Pittsburgh Steelers and for one year in the Arena Football League, accomplished a lot in professional football. He said his father never pressured him or his brother Ricardo, 14, to play football, but he admits his father asked him quite a few times before he decided this year to play.
At 5-foot-9, 210 pounds, Ricky is on his way to becoming just as big as his father was (6-2, 272) when he was at MSU.
"I love it," Carrlon said. "I love you get to use your aggression against other people. Everything you have during the day (you can take it out on the field) and just relax in football. I love the workout and just being out here."
Carrlon isn''t sure if he plays like his father. He said they both laugh a lot and are "huge," and hopes to put his father''s genes to good use.
Davis smiles when asked if it makes him feel old to coach a son of a former MSU teammate. He acknowledges he has been in coaching a number of years and at several schools, but he said he still loves working with teenagers, and he hopes to teach them a little football and some lessons they will be able to use later in life. The chance to do it with the son of someone he played with makes it even more special.
"It means a lot," Davis said. "Some of the best years I had were playing at Mississippi State with Ricky and with coach (Rocky) Felker. They are things you remember forever. It seems like you just left it two years ago, but we have been out quite a while.
"It is special, trying to pass on something we have learned and taught, just an appreciation for the game and the way it is supposed to be played."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.