Byford waiting his turn with Cornhuskers
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
For former Hartselle star Brett Byford, the decision wasn't hard to continue his football career at Nebraska, even though he was the Huskers' first scholarship recruit from Alabama since Dwayne Harris in 1991.
"I took all my visits and prayed a lot," Byford said. "I kind of wanted to get away from home for a little bit – you don't meet many folks from the South here. Plus, the lineman tradition at Nebraska has always been really good."
In 2005, Byford will be a redshirt sophomore, and expects to be in the mix for playing time during the season. He projects that he will be in the running for second-string center or guard by the time the team plays its first game against Maine on Sept. 3.
"I'm just going to go out there and do my best, and hopefully get to play a little more this year," said Byford, who saw action in several games last season.
Byford is currently on campus in Lincoln, taking a few classes and participating in workouts with the rest of the Huskers. His schedule involves waking up at 7 a.m. to run, classes from 8:45 through around noon and lifting weights with the team from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
"Things are good (at Nebraska)," Byford said. "I'm staying busy and working hard to get ready for the season. I've been doing a lot of lifting, running, 7-on-7 linemen drills, studying the playbook."
The playbook that Byford studies is the brainchild of former NFL head coach Bill Callahan, who became Nebraska's head coach in January of 2004. Although Callahan's first Nebraska team finished 5-6, the Huskers signed a recruiting class in 2004 that was considered the best in the nation by some college football publications.
Byford signed with Nebraska in 2003, when the team was under the direction of coach Frank Solich, who is now the head coach at Ohio University. But Callahan, who coached the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl in 2002, has already made an impact on Byford.
"(The coaches) really know their stuff," Byford said. "(Callahan) knows the game really well and has taught us a lot. (My line coach) is really cool. There's a lot of stuff I've learned from him, especially how to play center more and learning how to read defenses."
In addition to playing football and success in the classroom – he was named to the Big XII Commissioner's Fall Academic Honor Roll in 2003 – Byford has remained involved in community service.
A member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, he has done several speaking engagements with the FCA, and has also been involved in service projects that range from hospital visits to prison ministry.
"Playing football has been a really huge platform for service," he said. "Football was just the vehicle that God used to get me here. Service has definitely been the highlight of my time here."
But even with all that keeps him busy with Lincoln, Byford continues to keep up to date with events in Hartselle, especially how his Tigers are doing
"I stay in touch with a few guys from high school," he said. "I keep updated on the Tigers by reading the newspapers online and calling my grandma every day."