Back in 2016, when Tyler Byrd was in the eighth grade, Rosemark’s starting shortstop got into a collision with another player and had to miss some time in concussion protocol.

Rebel head coach Brad Smith was suddenly in need of a shortstop and didn’t have any varsity players to fill the role, so he did something he had never done: started an eighth-grader.

“I didn’t know what he was going to do, but I knew he wouldn’t be too nervous,” Smith said. “It worked out well.”

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“It meant a lot to me get a start as an eighth-grader,” Byrd said. “Honestly, I was nervous a lot because everybody was three times as big as me. He just told me to go out there and make the routine plays.”

Byrd started at shortstop the rest of that season, played there through his junior season and put up some very impressive offensive numbers.

On Tuesday Byrd, now a senior, announced on Twitter that he had committed to play at Northwest Mississippi Community College, which he said recruited him very persistently the last few months.

“I would like to thank God, because of him all things are possible,” Byrd, who lives in Olive Branch, Miss., wrote on Twitter. “I would also like to thank my family and the many sacrifices they’ve made and continue to make for me. I’m excited and ready for what God has planned for me.”

Smith said Byrd, who typically bats fourth or fifth in the order, probably would have ended up being in the top three in several career offensive categories at TRA if this season had not been cancelled.

Tyler Byrd, a starter for Rosemark since the eighth grade, committed to play baseball next season at Northwest Mississippi Community College. Photo by David Perry

“He can really swing it,” Smith said. “He’s got a lot of thunder in his bat. He’s a hard-nosed kid.”

Byrd, who was also a standout linebacker and tailback on the TRA football team, hit .333 last season with 15 doubles, two triples, two homers, 39 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.