Sunny Byrd
    Sunny  Byrd

    RS Senior

    Manhattan Beach

    High School:
    Mira Costa

    Last College:
    El Camino JC

    Height / Weight:
    6-0 / 215




    Byrd, who gained folk hero status in 2001 when he emerged as USC's starting tailback in mid-season, returned to the fullback corps in 2002 and served as a backup there as a senior. He also played on special teams. Overall in 2002 while appearing in every game, he ran for 29 yards on 8 carries (3.6 avg.) with a TD, caught 2 passes for 15 yards (7.5 avg.) and made 5 tackles. He had 18 yards on 5 carries (with a 6-yard TD) against Iowa in the Orange Bowl. His other rushing yards came at UCLA and both of his catches were versus Auburn.

    When injuries decimated USC's tailback corps in the middle of the 2001 season, the Trojans turned to an unlikely player: little-known junior reserve fullback and special teamer Byrd. And Byrd responded with a solid performance. Overall, while appearing in 11 games in 2001 (all but Kansas State), he ran for 336 yards on 123 carries (2.7 avg.) with 4 TDs, caught 11 passes for 81 yards (7.4 avg.) and made 5 tackles. All of his carries came while running out of the tailback spot (against Arizona State, Notre Dame, Arizona, Oregon State, California, UCLA and Utah); he even started the last 6 of those contests, all at tailback. He had at least 20 carries in 5 of the 7 games that he appeared at tailback (all but California and Utah) and led Troy in rushing in the first 4 of those games and versus Utah. Against Arizona State, he had a game-best 63 yards on 20 carries with 2 short TDs (he scored on his first career carry) off the bench for injured starting tailback Sultan McCullough (Byrd was handed the ball on all but the last of USC's final 17 rushes, including on 8 consecutive plays). He ran for 62 yards on 22 carries (he also caught 3 passes for 10 yards) at Notre Dame, then had a team-best 67 yards on 22 carries, with a 1-yard TD, and caught a 21-yard pass at Arizona. He ran for a team-best 54 yards on a game-high 20 carries and caught 3 passes for 14 yards versus Oregon State. He added 19 yards on 9 attempts at California, then 40 yards on 20 carries (and 19 yards on 2 receptions) against UCLA. He ran for a team-best 31 yards on 10 carries, with a 2-yard TD for USC's only score, and caught an 8-yard pass against Utah. Versus Stanford, Byrd had a 9-yard catch from the fullback spot and made 2 tackles on special teams. He missed part of 2001 spring practice with a sprained knee ligament.

    Byrd, who transferred to USC in the fall of 2000 from a junior college, redshirted as a junior fullback in 2000.

    He was a 1999 J.C. Athletic Bureau All-State Region IV first teamer and All-Mission Conference first teamer as a sophomore running back at El Camino Junior College in Torrance (Calif.). In 1999, he rushed for 715 yards and 8 TDs and caught 25 passes for 276 yards (11.0 avg) with 3 TDs as he was named his team's MVP. He also started at El Camino as a 1998 redshirt freshman. He attended El Camino in 1997 (as a part-time student in the fall of 1997), but did not play football. Current Trojan David Davis also attended El Camino.

    He earned 1996 Los Angeles Times All-South Bay/Westside Back of the Year, South Bay Daily Breeze All-South Bay first team and All-Ocean League MVP honors as a senior at Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach (Calif.). In 1996, he ran for 1,388 yards with 17 TDs and caught 28 passes for 506 yards (18.1 avg) with 7 scores. Mira Costa was the CIF Division IX runnerup in 1996. He was a 1995 South Bay Daily Breeze All-South Bay second team and All-Ocean League first team (as a defensive back) pick as a junior. He ran for 1,203 yards with 10 TDs in 1995 and made 56 solo tackles with 1 interception.

    He's a sociology major at USC. He likes to surf in his free time (he started surfing when he was 7).

    Playing tailback: "At first, it was overwhelming. I didn't know what to think. I just went out there and did it. It took me a while to realize I was the starting tailback for USC. It was an amazing opportunity?I was very shocked by it all. It was just a temporary thing, though. I'm not one who is going to go out and gain big yardage. I try, but I pretty much just go and pound my way for a few yards at a time?There was pressure. But the coaches knew they brought me over from the fullback position, so I don't think they expected me to make those huge plays." Surfing: "I get out any chance I can get. It is kind of healing out there." His first name: "My parents are hippies. My younger sister is named Coral, my brother is Jade and my older sister is Niaja. My parents? They're Pat and Lisa!"

    USC quarterback Carson Palmer: "He's not the type of player who is going to blow right by people because he's such a bruiser. He reminds me of (ex-USC tailback) Petros Papadakis, never trying to shake people or run by them, but always trying to hit someone. Sunny sees a defensive back and runs right at them. We like that. A defensive back doesn't like a guy who is 220 pounds coming at him full speed?Sunny has enough speed to where he can get outside and turn the corner. So if the defense tries to load up the inside, Sunny does have the ability to get outside." Former USC fullback Charlie Landrigan: "He's a fun-loving California surfer kid?He works hard and he can play. He's always smiling, always has his head up, no matter what is happening. He is the Sunshine Boy." Mike Cervantes, Daily Trojan: "When the 2001 football season started, most people would never figure a blond-haired surfer would be a major contributor to the Trojans?Sunny Byrd is a slower, punishing runner who gets the bulk of his yards after knocking a defender back a few yards. As a fullback-turned-tailback, Byrd has the hit-hard mentality that is evident on all his carries."

    2001 (Jr.)?123336 2.7 413 11 81 7.4 021
    2002 (Sr.)? 8 29 3.6 1 8 2 15 7.5 0 8
    CAREER??.131365 2.8 513 13 96 7.4 021
    2001 (Jr.)? 5 0/0 0 0
    2002 (Sr.)? 5 0/0 0 0
    CAREER??. 10 0/0 0 0
    Auburn 0 0 0.0 0 0 2 15 7.5 0 8
    UCLA 3 11 3.7 0 8 0 0 0.0 0 0
    Iowa (Orange) 5 18 3.6 1 6 0 0 0.0 0 0
    2002 (Sr.)? 3 11 3.7 0 8 2 15 7.5 0 8
    Stanford 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 9 9.0 0 9
    Arizona State 20 63 3.2 2 9 0 0 0.0 0 0
    Notre Dame* 22 62 2.8 013 3 10 8.3 0 6
    Arizona* 22 67 3.1 112 1 2121.0 021
    Oregon State* 20 54 2.7 0 8 3 14 4.7 014
    California* 9 19 2.1 0 6 0 0 0.0 0 0
    UCLA* 20 40 2.0 0 9 2 19 9.5 012
    Utah (Vegas)* 10 31 3.1 1 7 1 8 8.0 0 8
    2001 (Jr.)?123336 2.7 413 11 81 7.4 021