Charlotte running back Shadrick Byrd is entering his second season with the team. Byrd broke onto the scene a year ago for the 49ers, becoming a significant part of their offensive game plan. Byrd is focusing on the future while remembering life lessons that have shaped him as a person.
Head Coach Will Healy shared what makes Byrd unique and where the staff hopes to see him go in the next year.
"Shad was so successful last year because of his consistency," said Healy.
"He does the little things right all the time and has a God-given ability to be a great athlete. He is a special next-level back, and we are excited to see him take a big step this season."
The Alabaster, Ala. native started playing sports at a young age. Byrd was captivated by football when his mom took him to his first practice.
"As a kid, football was the sport that really caught my eye," said Byrd. "My mom got me started in it early and took me to practice one day, and I knew it was for me."
Byrd joined a rebuilding Thompson High School squad his freshman year. Head Coach Mark Freeman mentored Byrd helping him become a three-star recruit. Byrd rushed for 1,167 yards and 21 touchdowns with a State Championship game appearance in 2018.
"Thompson is a powerhouse now, but when I was coming in, the program needed to be rebuilt," said Byrd. "Coach [Freeman] put me in a great position to make plays, and I appreciate that time."
Byrd committed to play college football at the University of Iowa in 2018 and didn't get much playing time appearing in one game. He then redshirted, sitting out the rest of the season before entering the transfer portal in 2020.
"I enrolled early, so it was a quick change from what I was used to," said Byrd. "It was a great experience that helped me to grow up and showed me how to handle my business."
Byrd committed to play at Charlotte in Jan. 2021. He was drawn to Charlotte because of the opportunity to help build the program and the social life of Uptown.
"When I entered the portal, I wanted to help build up the program, and Charlotte needed some guys who wanted to win, which I wanted to be a part of," said Byrd. "Also, Uptown is beautiful, and there are some great food spots."
Byrd immediately impacted the 49ers' last season, rushing for 583 yards and three touchdowns. Byrd was pivotal in Charlotte's win over Power Five opponent Duke scoring on an 11-yard pass with 33 seconds remaining.
Byrd looks back fondly on his first season in Charlotte.
"The Duke game was a highlight from last year because we were able to beat a Power Five opponent," said Byrd. "Being able to come around the locker room every day is a highlight in and of itself."
Byrd ranked 41st in the nation for kick return yards with 616 a season ago. His performance has led to him being named to two award watchlists. The Hornung Award Watch List is given to the most versatile player in college football and the Preseason Conference USA (C-USA) Teams.
Byrd has forged a close bond with fellow running backs Chavon McEachern and Calvin Camp. The trio relies on each other for advice and support. They have helped each other grow on and off the field.
"When we are in the gym or locker rooms, we are always pushing each other," said Byrd.
"I want the best from Calvin, and since it is his last season, I want him to seize the moment to reach his goals. Von is a young back and has a lot of talent, and if I can help him with the little things, he will only get better."
Byrd has gained a wealth of advice from coaches at all levels. He feels that his coaches have prepared him to take the next step in his playing career.
"Every year, I get good feedback from coaches, but the most important piece of advice to me is keeping your head down and be where your feet are," said Byrd. "If you have a good mindset and strong will, you can do anything."
Off the field, Byrd is a self-proclaimed food fanatic and music lover. Byrd eats either chicken wings or whatever tastes suitable for his postgame meals. On game day, Byrd usually listens to Lil Baby's and Future's music on his headphones.
Byrd is looking ahead to what the future holds, personally and professionally. Byrd's goal is to make it to the NFL, and if that doesn't work out, he wants to go into sports journalism. Personally, Byrd intends to settle down and start a family in the next five to ten years.
Byrd and the 49ers will be back in action for the home opener against the William & Mary Griffins on Friday, Sept. 2.