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Bryum is the man!


“I had a couple of people come up to me, and then a couple of people grabbed them and told them to shut up and leave (me) alone,” Byrum said.

Only one player breached the last-minute rules of etiquette. Tight end Tommy Trott approached Byrum to fulfill their season-long tradition.

“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. “(On Saturday), he looked at me and said, ‘All right Wes, I’m sorry, but I’ve got to do this: Don’t mess this up.’ And then he turned around and walked back to the line.

“It’s kind of a joke now. It lightens things up on the field. It lets me know they’re all behind me on the line.”

AUBURN — A kicker on the verge of attempting a game-winning field goal is about as popular as a pitcher about to throw a no-hitter.

Protocol requires that no one talk to him, wish him luck or even get near him.

In the waning minutes of the fourth quarter Saturday, Auburn true freshman kicker Wes Byrum was the loneliest man at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

As most of the college football world knows by now, Byrum made the 43-yard game-winning field goal to give Auburn a 20-17 upset victory in one of the toughest places to play in the country.

In his first college season, Byrum has made 8 of 10 field goals, including three longer than 40 yards.

His coaches haven’t been surprised.

“I don’t think the kid gets nervous,” said special teams coach Eddie Gran, who recruited Byrum out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Byrum actually made the winning kick twice. Florida head coach Urban Meyer called a timeout moments before the first attempt.

Auburn players had rushed the field and had to be herded back to the sidelines. Gran said Byrum was unfazed.

“You look at his eyes, you look at the way he acts,” Gran said. “They brought everybody back (off the field) and he said, ‘That’s fine. Let’s go.’”

Rather than be annoyed at Meyer’s last-second timeout, Byrum said he considered the free on-field warm-up kick to be a gift.

“I was a little bit more comfortable,” he said. “I just hit the first one, so when it was time to hit the second one, I just kind of went back there and did the same thing.”

Byrum said he has more than a dozen friends attending UF. He might have gone there too, but the Gators weren’t offering a new scholarship for a kicker this year. At Auburn, Byrum knew he would have a chance to start immediately.

“I had about 15 friends standing outside (the stadium) waiting for me,” he said. “They all congratulated me. They were like, ‘I hate you, but I love you. We’re OK with it because it was you.’”

Byrum faced distractions even before his winning kick. Fans at the Swamp are only a few feet from the sidelines. When it became clear that the game would come down to Byrum’s foot, Florida fans unloaded their full arsenal of insults.

“I was getting everything,” said the 18-year-old Byrum. “Guys were screaming all types of things. The girls were saying whatever they could think of to anybody that walked by. I just didn’t look at any of them once. I just kept kicking and didn’t pay any attention to them.”

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