After making an immediate impact at Tennessee last year as a true freshman, Tyler Byrdentered this season as one of the Vols’ top returning wide receivers and most proven playmakers.
But he’s still waiting to build on his early success.
Byrd has caught only two passes for 21 yards through Tennessee’s first six games this season and has yet to make his first start this year, and coach Butch Jones said this week that Byrd is seeking “consistency in performance” and “working very hard” in hopes of playing a bigger role in the Vols’ offense.
“Him and I talk all the time,” Jones said of Byrd on Wednesday. “It’s being able to do it on a consistent basis on the practice field, and he’s come out this week and he’s worked very hard.
“Again, it’s just going through that stage of his career right now and stage of just the small details. He’s working very hard. He’s working to correct some of those. And we need Tyler Byrd. We need Tyler Byrd to step up and make some plays for us, and he has played in some meaningful games for us last year.
“The one thing that’s invaluable is experience.”
While Tennessee’s wide receivers have struggled through the team’s first six games, Byrd still hasn’t found his way onto the field on a consistent basis.
One of his two catches this season went for a touchdown. But he has only three offensive touches this year going into Saturday’s game at top-ranked Alabama, and all three of them came in the Vols’ 17-13 win over Massachusetts on Sept. 23.
Jones said Wednesday during his weekly appearance on Nashville’s WGFX-FM, 104.5 The Zone, that Tennessee’s coaches and Byrd are “working through some things” in regard to Byrd’s consistency on the practice field.
“Tyler and I continue to speak, and I just think it’s consistency in performance in practice and being consistent with everything that you do,” Jones said Wednesday on 104.5 The Zone’s “3HL.”
“I love Tyler, and we’re working through some things in terms of just consistency. And it’s important to him, and he continues to work. I think that’s just the biggest thing, is being able to have the consistency of performance in practice that really translates into game day.”