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Archive for Tuesday, June 11, 1996

LL RETURN TO KU

June 11, 1996

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Isaac Byrd is back in the roost.

Byrd, Kansas University's football-baseball standout who was selected last week in the 11th round of the amateur baseball draft by his hometown St. Louis Cardinals, said Monday that he planned to return to KU for his senior year.

"I'm coming back," Byrd said from his suburban St. Louis home. "I don't want to get into the figures, but we just couldn't come to an agreement. After weighing my options with my family, we felt it best to come back.

"I'm not disappointed. I have too much going for me to be disappointed. I attend a great university, and I play two sports that I love. I have a chance to play both of those sports again."

Byrd made his decision late Monday afternoon and promptly called KU football coach Glen Mason and baseball coach Bobby Randall.

For the KU football team last fall, Byrd had a team-leading 604 reception yards as the Jayhawks finished an astounding 10-2 and finished in the top 10 in both major national polls.

For the baseball team, Byrd was the second-leading hitter at .393. He led the team as a sophomore at .321.

"I am relieved," Mason said Monday. "I'm very pleased with his decision to come back and play with us in the fall. Putting selfish motivation aside, I wanted what's best for Isaac Byrd. I think it was a comprehensive decision. He also likes football. Remember, he's really only a one-year football player. He came on the scene last year and was better than anybody thought. We're happy to have him back."

So is Randall, who was faced with the prospect of replacing an all-Big Eight center fielder.

"It makes an amazing difference in our outfield situation," Randall said. "He was only our co-MVP. Honestly, these high school players are great, but you can't expect them to play at the same level as Ike or Josh Kliner."

The Cardinals still could come back with a higher offer in hopes of signing Byrd, but Byrd said his mind was made.

"We weren't extremely far apart," Byrd said. "We were fairly close, but I wasn't going to go down, and they weren't going to come up. That being the case, with me in the situation I'm in, I wasn't going to short-change myself. They may call me back. I don't know. But my mind is set on coming back. Now I'm just going to do everything I can to get ready for football."

Byrd was one of four players with KU ties to be selected in the draft. Damian Rolls, who had signed a national letter of intent to play for KU out of KC Schlagle High, agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who selected him in the first round with the 23rd overall pick. He reported to minicamp on Monday.

Rolls is believed to have received a signing bonus in excess of $750,000.

"He called and said he was sorry he couldn't come," Randall said. "He said, 'If I went in the second round, I'd be at Kansas.' But to go in the first round, it was too much for him to wait three years for it to happen again."

Jimmy Terrell, another KC infielder who signed with KU, signed Monday with the White Sox, who selected him in the third round.

"I'm happy," Terrell said from his Blue Springs, Mo., home. "I really wanted to do it. I'm excited. I just decided I wanted to get started. I didn't want to spend too much time idle. I wanted to get down there and get started."

Mario Opipari, a junior this spring who was taken in the 53rd round by the Minnesota Twins, hasn't signed yet but said Monday that he expected to bypass his senior season.

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