CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - As a young football and track star in New Jersey, Damiere Byrd knew he wanted to go to college in the south. That's exactly what he did. Byrd played four years as a wide receiver for the Gamecocks, totaling 1,265 yards with ten touchdowns.
While Byrd may have had a desire to play football in the south, he might not have envisioned getting his first chance at the pro level with the team closest to his collegiate home.
"Most of my adult life has been down here. Everything I've learned as an adult has been from the Carolinas," Byrd said.
With the help of his famous "Byrd signal," those local ties have led him to become a fan favorite among many in the community. But, like most people, Byrd had his struggles along the way.
After posting just 308 yards in his senior season at South Carolina, his worst total since freshman year, the 5-foot-9 wideout wasn't getting much attention from NFL scouts. However, that didn't stop him from getting his name out there.
"I went to go work out for my quarterback… it was a Carolina workout," Byrd said. "I was just kind of there to help him out, and I ended up getting an invite to minicamp."
Three years after that, Byrd was on the field for the Panthers, scoring touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers. Byrd caught 10 passes for Carolina in the 2017 season, two of which were touchdowns. Unfortunately for him, injuries ended the best season in his career early.
Through all the challenges, Byrd has held strong, reminding himself that adversity is a part of the game.
"It kind of just sums up what football is. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but over the course of the season you have to continue to get up and try to go fight the next day," Byrd said.
As an undrafted free agent, Byrd always feels like he has a chip on his shoulder, regardless of what's going on in his career. This season is no different.
"Everybody knows that I can play now. I think now it's just staying healthy and allowing myself to continue to take advantage of those opportunities," Byrd said.