Hatari Byrd commits to Oklahoma

ESPN 300 defender chooses the Sooners over UCLA and Washington

Updated: July 31, 2012, 5:08 PM ET
By Bob Przybylo and Erik McKinney | RecruitingNation

If ever the Oklahoma fanbase needed some good news, it was Tuesday. And the Sooners got it from four-star safety Hatari Byrd (Fresno, Calif./Central East).

Byrd, ranked No. 293 in the ESPN 300 and rated as the No. 14 safety, verbally committed to OU, he confirmed.

"It's a big relief and weight off my shoulders," Byrd told ESPN.com. "I'm really happy. I'm still smiling about the situation."

Fresno Central East defensive backs coach Tony Perry said Byrd developed a bond with OU head coach Bob Stoops and new defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.

"He's really comfortable with the Stoops coaches," Perry said. "Mike came out here whenever he was allowed to and watched practice. He liked Hatari a lot and they built a good relationship. He said, 'That's the guy I have to get.' They've been on him for a while."

Although Byrd has never seen the campus, Mike Stoops had been making a big impression with not just Byrd but also with four-star teammates L.J. Moore and Johnny Johnson Jr.

The Sooners have offered the Fresno Central trio and Stoops visited the trio during the spring evaluation period.

"One thing about those guys is that they're all cool with each other, but they're going to make their own decisions on where they want to go," Perry said. "If they would like to play together, the door is open for them at Oklahoma. They all have trips scheduled out there, but those other guys have schools they are looking at as well."

[+] EnlargeHatari Byrd
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comFour-star safety Hatari Byrd developed a solid relationship with Sooners secondary coach Mike Stoops.

Byrd, who is 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, announced earlier this month that OU and UCLA were his top two choices and said he wanted to commit before August. He spoke to both Mike and Bob Stoops on Tuesday to confirm his commitment.

"This was something he was going to do, but he didn't know when he was going to do it. He liked UCLA and Washington and he wanted to make his decision at The Opening," Perry said. "He had to talk to a few people, but he was going to get it over with."

The Byrd commitment comes on the heels of a dreadful Monday for OU. The Sooners learned junior college offensive tackle signee Will Latu will not academically qualify, junior college wide receiver signee Courtney Gardner will be forced to redshirt and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Dylan Dismuke's football career is over because of a knee injury.

And in terms of the 2013 class, the biggest blow was struck by Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage-Boca Delray running back Greg Bryant. Having been committed to OU since March 31, Bryant, ranked No. 30 in the ESPN 150, announced his decommitment from the Sooners because he wants to play in the SEC.

Byrd is the 12th commit for OU's 2013 class and third at defensive back. Byrd, Johnson and Moore have all planned to make official visits to OU on Oct. 26, the weekend of the Sooners home game against Notre Dame.

Byrd said he will take all five of his official visits and that he will visit OU, UCLA and Washington.

Bob Przybylo | email

Reporter, RecruitingNation