San Diego State running back Jordan Byrd home to New Mexico

Jordan Byrd was listed as 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds — measurements likely taken while standing on his toes with bags full of rocks — when he joined the San Diego State football team four years ago.

Byrd said he was focused on “building a legacy and getting my name out there” as he stepped onto campus.

“I’m from New Mexico,” said Byrd, a four-year-old state sprint champion from Albuquerque. “You don’t really get a lot of people from New Mexico. I just wanted to put New Mexico on the map and show that we have athletes too.

Byrd has been one of SDSU’s most dynamic players over the past five seasons.

It includes some memorable moments in his hometown.

The last time SDSU came to town, Byrd had a 139-yard rush and two touchdown rushes in a 2019 New Mexico Bowl win over Central Michigan.

Byrd gets another home visit Friday night when SDSU (6-4, 4-2 Mountain West) plays New Mexico (2-8, 0-6).

He expects a few dozen family and friends to be in the stands for the game.

“I’ve always wanted to let people know that I can be an athlete, even (at) my size,” Byrd said. “I wanted to show people that I can do it just as well as others. … I try to be a great role model for other kids.”

He’s been doing that since the jump.

In his freshman year in 2018, Byrd needed all four touches to do something special for the Aztecs — he broke up on the outside for a 72-yard touchdown run to seal a 19-13 SDSU win at Boise State gain

“We all know he’s fast,” former SDSU head coach Rocky Long said after the game. “In practice, if he breaks away, no one can even come close to catching him. We just have to get him out in the open to prove he’s fast. And he proved today that he is fast.”

Byrd has proven that time and time again over the past five seasons.

He showed how special he is this year by becoming the first FBS player since 2018 to score touchdowns in four different ways – rushing, received, kick return and punt return.

Byrd had a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 53-yard rushing touchdown (one of three rushing TDs this season) in a Week 2 win over Idaho State.

He had a 15-yard touchdown catch in a Week 6 win against Hawaii.

The kick return TD came in last week’s 43-27 win over San Jose State when Byrd received the ball at his 5-yard line with five minutes left in the first quarter, got a few blocks and worked his way down the left touchline along was a 95-yard TD.

“Jordan Byrd and his touchdown was a spark for us,” said SDSU head coach Brady Hoke.

SDSU was down 14-0 when Byrd got his hands on the ball. It was the first time the Aztecs overcame a two-touchdown deficit and won in a decade.

“That changed the whole tide of the game very, very significantly,” said Brent Brennan, San Jose State head coach.

Byrd said he heard the voice of SDSU special teams coordinator Doug Deakin in his head during the return, reminding him not to “let the kicker attack you.”

“As I got past him,” Byrd said, “I looked up at the jumbotron and saw that I was alone.”

And he thought, “OK, I can finally relax and just finish the touchdown.”

Byrd has three games left in his collegiate career to put the finishing touches on his legacy.

He comes into the game in New Mexico with 3,832 all-purpose yards, 168 yards from the 4,000-yard mark.

Only seven players in SDSU history have reached this milestone: DJ Pumphrey (7,515), Rashaad Penny (6,654), Marshall Faulk (5,595), Darnay Scott (4,658), Monty Gilbreath (4,608), Colin Lockett (4,376), and Juwan Washington (4,000).

It’s quite a select company.

“It’s an honor to know that the team is trusting me to have the ball in my hands,” Byrd said. “I really appreciate the team, the coach (Hoke) and everyone.”

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