In these dark days for the Aztecs offense, one player has continually proven to be a shining light. Senior running back and kick returner extraordinaire Jordan Byrd leads SDSU in offensive production, special teams returns, and overall accomplishments that win games.
The senior’s game sparkled in the Aztecs come-from-behind win over Toledo. Byrd sprinted in for the 1-yard touchdown run that put SDSU ahead with 41 seconds left in the game. Earlier, the Red and Black speedster from New Mexico accounted for all the yardage in a 2-play, 80-yard drive racing for 37 and then 43 yards to the end zone for the game’s first points.
On the day, Byrd finished with 115 yards on the ground and 2 touchdowns. Thus far this season, Byrd leads the Aztec offense in rushing attempts (29), yards (224), and rushing touchdowns (3).
“I just kept the offense confident,” Byrd said when asked about his two carries for 80 yards. “I’m always talking to them and getting the linemen right. We have young guys on the team, and I just kept talking to them, keeping them calm. Just don’t let it get to their heads. They opened up the hole for me and I ended up having some good runs.”
As the Aztecs are set to square up against the Broncos Friday night in Boise, we are reminded by the last time the Aztecs competed on the blue turf. It was 2018 and SDSU was in the height of campaigning for a brand new stadium and campus expansion opportunity to be purchased on the current Snapdragon Stadium site in Mission Valley.
Boise State had beaten the Aztecs just the previous year against a 2017 offensive unit led by current Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny. With defense led by LB Kyahva Tezino and Safety Tariq Thompson, the Aztecs were able to suffocate the Broncos 19-13, behind several interceptions.
But the deciding score was where many in the nation were able to see Jordan Byrd on the big stage for the first time. As a true freshman, Byrd was able to show off his exceptional speed while cruising down the sideline for an Aztecs touchdown in the 4th quarter. The score was able to put the Aztecs up 20-7 and gave SDSU their 2nd win on the smurf turf. For Jordan, it was an opportunity that suddenly led to many many more in his time at state.
The 5’9” super senior also stands out on special teams, a role he has excelled at for several years now. Named first-team All-Mountain West kick returner in 2021, Byrd came into this season as the preseason first-team All-Mountain West selection as kick returner and punt returner. And he has not disappointed.
He’s averaging 24 yards on 7 kick returns and 17.8 yards on 6 punt returns and one TD. It was Byrd’s 66-yard punt return for a score that swung momentum to the Aztecs’ side and led to 38 unanswered points in the win against Idaho State. The former high school track star possesses breakaway speed that leaves defenders grasping at shadows.
As the Aztecs’ most consistent and productive offensive weapon, the question becomes how does SDSU get Byrd more involved? It’s a question even the television broadcast crew asked during the loss to Utah. Byrd’s teammate Caden McDonald expressed the confidence the whole team has in their star running back/return man after Saturday’s win.
“I’ll say something too, this dude (Byrd) trains harder than everyone, he is built for the job,” the senior linebacker shared. “That’s the guy we want (with) the ball in his hands. We know when Jordan’s got it, he’s so electric and so fast. Jordan outworks everyone in the program, this guy works harder than everyone so when the ball is in his hands, we know the Aztecs are in good hands.”
So, is the player who made his name on special teams ready for more opportunities to excel as both a returner and a featured running back?
“I love it,” Byrd said when asked about the workload. “You just have to stay calm, you know in those situations. I wanted to return that ball but it was a kickoff but you know we ended up scoring anyways. It’s really fun going out there and doing both special teams and offense.”
Look for Byrd to continue to shine on Boise State’s bright blue turf Friday night as the Aztecs travel to Idaho to line up against their first MW conference foe this season.
Watch below for Jordan Byrd’s full interview with the Daily Aztecs Spear Sports Report Podcast, where he shares more about who he is and his future pursuits after college.