PRO: The Titans selected Kevin Byard with the first pick of the third round in the 2016 NFL Draft, and he is now considered one of the top safeties in the NFL. Following his second season, during which he tied for the NFL lead in interceptions (eight) and led the NFL in total takeaways (10), he was named first-team Associated Press All-Pro and earned his first Pro Bowl berth. The 5-foot-11-inch, 212-pound defender has a reputation as a sideline-to-sideline, ball-hawking safety who plays with tremendous intelligence and effort. The Middle Tennessee State product made an immediate impact as a rookie in 2016 by finishing fifth on the team with 63 tackles and ranking second on the squad with 10 special teams tackles.
• In 2017, Byard was named to the Pro Bowl and earned first-team Associated Press All-Pro honors after tying Detroit’s Darius Slay for the NFL lead with eight interceptions. He added a pair of fumble recoveries to pace the league with 10 total takeaways.
• His eight interceptions in 2017 tied for seventh in franchise history and made up the highest total by any franchise player since Oilers cornerback Richard Johnson picked off eight passes in 1990.
• In 2016, Byard saw action in all 16 games with seven starts and compiled 63 tackles, a sack, five tackles for loss, three quarterback pressures, four passes defensed and 10 special teams tackles. His seven starts were the most by a Titans rookie safety since Michael Griffin (10) in 2007.
• Byard credits his mother, Artina Stanley, for much of his success. Following a divorce when Byard was in ninth grade, his mother moved with the children from Philadelphia to Atlanta. Although it was a financial struggle, Stanley worked long hours to make sure her children received what they needed. Byard claims he and his older brother “had to grow up really fast” as they helped their mother with taking care of the younger kids in the family.
• The Titans had an inside track in their scouting of Byard. Titans general manager Jon Robinson received glowing reports on Byard from his friend and MTSU recruiting coordinator Steve Ellis. When Robinson was a linebackers coach at Nicholls State, Ellis was one of his pupils, and the two remained close through the years. Additionally, Patrick Callaway, a newly-hired scouting assistant for the Titans, was Byard’s high school teammate.
• Byard says his football role models are Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins and Troy Polamalu.
• Byard has aspirations to travel the world, and his bucket list includes setting foot on every continent.
• Byard has three brothers and three sisters and is the second oldest of the group.
• The Lithonia, Ga., native was selected by the Titans in the third round (64th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft.
• During a four-year career at Middle Tennessee State, he appeared in 49 games and notched 46 starts at safety. He set school records with 19 career interceptions, 377 interception return yards and four interception returns for touchdowns. He finished sixth in MTSU history with 312 career tackles. In 49 career games, he had a hand in 25 turnovers (19 interceptions, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery). Had 17 additional career passes defensed and five tackles for loss. He was twice named first-team All-Conference USA.
• As a senior (2015), appeared in 12 games with nine starts as a permanent team captain. Ranked fourth on the team with 66 tackles and led the squad with four interceptions and six additional pass breakups. Ranked second among safeties with 718 snaps played. Named first-team All-Conference USA for the second consecutive season. Against North Texas on Nov. 21, 2015, he set the Middle Tennessee State record with his 18th career interception. He picked off another pass the following week to finish his career with 19 interceptions.
• As a junior (2014), played and started all 12 games and led the team with six interceptions. Ranked fourth on the team with 66 tackles, including three tackles for loss, and added four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick. Ranked seventh nationally and first in Conference USA in interceptions. Played a team-high 980 snaps. Named first-team All-Conference USA.
• As a sophomore (2013), played and started all 13 games. Registered a career-best 106 tackles to finish second on the team. Led the team with five interceptions. Also finished with an additional five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Equaled his own school mark with two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Led the team with 996 snaps played. Voted honorable mention All-Conference USA.
• As a redshirt freshman (2012), started all 12 games and led the team with four interceptions. Tied for third on the team with 74 tackles and added two pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a hurry. Equaled the school record with two interception returns for touchdowns and set the single-season record for interception return yards with 167. Led the entire team with 925 total snaps played and had 80 or more snaps four times. Named FWAA Freshman All-American, second-team All-SBC. Against Troy (11/24), forced three turnovers in win with two interceptions and a forced fumble to go with a pass breakup and six tackles. Second pick went for 77 yards and game-winning score late in fourth quarter. Named the SBC Defensive Player of the Week and the College Performance Awards National Defensive Back of the Week.
• As a freshman (2011), redshirted.
• Graduated in May 2015 with a degree in liberal studies.
• He splits time between Nashville and Lithonia, Ga., with his wife, Clarke.
• Attended M.L. King (Lithonia, Ga.), where as a senior he totaled 94 tackles, two interceptions, two blocked punts, and two fumble recoveries on defense. On offense, he recorded 35 receptions for 723 yards and six touchdowns, as well as 245 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Also returned 12 kickoffs for 350 yards and a touchdown.
• Voted Class AAAAA first-team all-state by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Associated Press. Earned all-region honors on offense and defense, while also garnering all-area and all-county accolades.
• Also lettered in track as a high school athlete.
• List of favorites: (TV show) “Martin”; (movie) “Wolf of Wall Street” and “Paid in Full”; (musician or band) Future; (food) Philadelphia cheesesteaks and hot wings; (childhood sports teams) Philadelphia 76ers; (athlete as a child) Allen Iverson; and (guilty pleasure) late-night snacks.
• Follow Byard on Twitter at @KB31_Era and on Instagram at @kb31_savage.
• Born Kevin Leon Byard Jr. on Aug. 17, 1993 in Philadelphia, Pa.
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