Surrounded by friends and family, Albany High star quarterback Emanuel Byrd smiles after signing his national letter-of-intent with Georgia Military on Wednesday. (email@example.com)
ALBANY — Timing is everything, and that’s one reason Albany High quarterback Emanuel Byrd is taking his strong and accurate arm to Georgia Military, where he hopes to play either one or two seasons and then move on to a Division I program.
Byrd, who threw for more than 3,300 yards combined the past two years, signed his national letter-of-intent with Georgia Military on Wednesday for one reason: exposure.
Byrd also wants more of a chance to prove himself.
“He would have signed with a Division I school if he had graduated last year,’’ Albany High coach Felton Williams said Wednesday. “He got caught in the middle of a young team and a coaching carousel. The team was much better last year, and we didn’t have as much success this year, and there were some coaches who were recruiting him who changed schools. I think he might play just one year at Georgia Military. He can leave after one year because he qualified academically.’’
Byrd has a 3.6 GPA but is taking the junior college route because he feels the more exposure he gets as a quarterback the better chance he will have to make it to the next level at a D-I school.
He completed 85 percent of his passes and threw for more than 1,900 yards and 21 TDs as a junior, but his numbers dropped in 2012 on a young Albany High team that had an inexperienced offensive line and struggled to protect Byrd. Byrd still completed 78 percent of his passes for 1,420 yards and 16 TDs, and he rushed for 625 yards and six touchdowns.
Central Florida offered Byrd a scholarship as an athlete, but he wants to make it as a QB and hopes Georgia Military is the answer.
“I love playing quarterback,’’ Byrd said. “I feel like this (signing with Georgia Military) will give me the opportunity to get better. I want to play Division I football.
“I had a lot of schools — Maryland, Kentucky and a number of other schools — that were interested after my junior year, but we didn’t compete this year. We competed my junior year.”
Byrd sees GMC as a challenge he’s willing to try and conquer.
“I’m going to go to Georgia Military for one or two years,’’ he added. “I will be able to showcase my talent. I wasn’t disappointed (I didn’t sign with a big school). I took it as a challenge.”
Williams said he felt Byrd would excel at Georgia Military and eventually make the move to the next level with ease.
“He’s a very rare talent,’’ Williams said. “He’s a four-year starter, and his leadership on and off the field will be missed. He has been successful in the classroom and on the football field. I believe he will succeed and play Division I football because of his athletic ability, his drive and determination.’’