He's no longer overlooked after big kick
Byrum's field goal gives him revenge against school that didn't want him
By Ross Dellenger
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AUBURN — Tight end Tommy Trott looked Wes Byrum in the eyes and said, "All right, Wes, I'm sorry, but I've got to do this. Don't mess this up."
Just seconds after Trott's helpful statement, the true freshman place-kicker hit a 43-yard field goal to lift Auburn over then-No. 4 Florida on Saturday night.
Trott's comments are becoming a tradition.
"It's actually funny. Before every kick that's kind of big, Tommy Trott comes up to me, as we're on the field, and says, 'Don't mess this up,' and turns around and goes back to the line," Byrum said.
If the past is any guide to the future, Trott should keep it up.
Byrum is now 2-0 in last-minute kicks for his collegiate career and 8-of-10 overall. His 46-yarder with 2:54 left against South Florida was overshadowed by the Tigers' eventual loss in overtime.
Saturday's wasn't, especially where it happened. Byrum grew up south of Gainesville, Fla., in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He wasn't much of a Florida fan growing up — more Miami, he said.
But he did attend Gator football camps during high school. The school recruited him little, though — another incentive in hitting the kick that gave Florida its first loss of the season.
"They said they weren't going to offer a kicker this year, just a punter," Byrum said.
What would've happened if they had offered a scholarship?
"I would have considered it just because of being in-state," he said.
He chose Auburn with hopes of getting a little revenge by hitting a game-winning kick against Florida. He even remembered his parents mentioning it at dinner one night.
Special teams coach Eddie Gran, who recruited Byrum, recalled Byrum's father saying, "The only thing that would be greater is if Wes kicks a last-second field goal against Florida."
"It came true," Byrum said.
Byrum has friends who attend Florida. About 15 of them were waiting for him when he walked out of the stadium.
As you can imagine, it was quite an odd situation.
"They were like, I hate you, but I love you," he said. "They were like, we're OK with it because it was you."
But other Florida students weren't as nice. Throughout the game, especially late in the fourth quarter when Byrum began to warm up, he heard an earful from the Florida student section, which sits directly behind the opposing team's sideline.
Among the screaming guys, there were several attractive Florida girls "saying whatever they could think of to anybody that walked by," he said.
After making the kick, Byrum wisely decided not to go back over there.
Instead, he mimicked Florida's traditional Gator chomp, aiming his arms at the Florida sideline. He said it wasn't planned.
"It just happened," he said.
Byrum then raced all over the field, evading a sure dog pile that would have ensued had he stopped.
"I didn't want everybody jumping on me so I went the other way," he said.
After the kick, Byrum was flooded with calls and text messages.
"There was about 30 minutes where I didn't even touch the phone, just receiving messages and messages," he said. "I just put it down for a little while."
Byrum said Saturday's kick was his first game-winner. He had a 56-yard attempt in high school that just missed to the left. "It had the distance by far," he added.
Vanderbilt at Auburn
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