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Oklahoma Football Recruiting: Will Hatari Byrd Start in 2013?

Hatari Byrd could earn playing time as a true freshman in Oklahoma's defensive backfield.
Hatari Byrd could earn playing time as a true freshman in Oklahoma's defensive backfield.
Trey HunterContributor IIIFebruary 6, 2013

The Oklahoma Sooners and Hatari Byrd made it official on signing day as the safety from Fresno, CA inked his letter of intent to play in Norman, OK for Bob and Mike Stoops. 

Byrd is one of Oklahoma's top defensive signees and according to The Oklahoman's Trent Shadid's article from Jan. 31, Sooners coaches told the recruit he will start as a true freshman

However, in a TweetChat on ESPN.com Byrd contradicted his statement to Shadid according to a quote posted by Dan Feldman of SportsDayDFW.

So, will Byrd start next year for the Stoops brothers? 

Although promises aren't always kept, especially in the world of college football recruiting, the idea of Byrd starting in Oklahoma's 2013 defensive backfield has merit.

The Sooners lost starting free safety and All-Big 12 performer Tony Jefferson to the NFL Draft and starting strong safety Javon Harris to graduation after their Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M.

Gabe Lynn is the most experienced returning defensive back, but with two spots open Byrd will likely get an opportunity to impress this spring.

According to 247Sports' Tyler McComas, Byrd should see playing time next season and according to a tweet from ESPN's Jake Trotter, Byrd could compete for a starting job as soon as he steps on campus. 

The 6'1" recruit from Central East High School ranked as the No. 15 safety in the nation and is a 4-star recruit according to 247Sports and the No. 21 player from California. He was selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl as well.

The combination of Byrd's talent, size and athletic ability and the lack of depth in Oklahoma's defensive backfield is pointing towards Byrd earning playing time early in his career.

After explaining to Shadid the coaches promised him a spot, Byrd also stated he is more of a cover guy, which could mean he's more of a free safety. Both the strong safety and free safety spots should be open going into spring ball.

It could benefit the Sooners more if Byrd starts at free safety. In the Big 12, passing games can torch teams. Talented free safeties can be game-breakers and at times can be the most important players on the field. 

So will Hatari Byrd be a game-breaker for the Sooners in 2013?

Will he get the chance to start for a defense that desperately needs help at defensive back?

Of course nothing is guaranteed with the Stoops brothers, but don't be surprised if Byrd lines up at safety in Oklahoma's first game against Louisiana-Monroe on Oct. 31. 

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