2023 Football

God Wrote My Story: Record-setting HBCU RB talks family, faith and football

Virginia Union running back Jada Byers talks about the connection of faith and football in his already record setting career.

Jada Byers, the record-setting HBCU running back from Virginia Union, is grounded in the fact that God has written his story. Every step that Byers takes in his life, he understands that it’s all predetermined by God. 

From a young age, Byers displayed his passion for football. Even though he was only five years old, he would run around with his older cousin, playing catch and having fun. Little did he know that this child’s play to the game would shape his future.

“I never forget the day we had a barbecue and we was playing ‘man with the ball go down’ which is like when you throw the ball and you get the ball every man for themselves whoever get the ball got to score everybody was trying to tackle him,” Byers expressed. “My older cousin tried to tackle me and I made both of the miss, they hit each other and one of their tooth fell out and ever since then like when they told my dad that I wanted to play as I was beating the kids at practice and everything. My dad said is this something you want to do I said yeah, so he’s like all right we’re going to do it the right way.”

Rated as a two-star back, Byers journey in collegiate football began in 2019 with his first Division I offer from Sacred Heart University. He was excited about the opportunity and had high hopes for his time there. However, once he arrived, he didn’t feel like it was the right fit for him. Despite this setback, Jada didn’t let it discourage him. He made the decision to transfer and found himself at Virginia Union University, a Division II HBCU.

In the midst of transferring to the Panthers, the running back celebrated the birth of his daughter. But it was later discovered she was born with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This condition occurs when the stomach contents flow back into the esophagus, causing discomfort and other complications. It was a difficult time for Jada, as he was already navigating his own personal life. However, seeing his daughter’s strength ignited a new flame in his journey.

Virginia Union Jada Byers God

“When I see my daughter there it just motivated me even more. My daughter can give up and check out at any moment, why would I give up? Every time she’s going stronger I’m gonna go stronger, every day she get better I’m trying to push myself to get better and that’s how I moved myself now to this day.”

Byers stepped foot on Panthers’ territory in 2021. The freshman played in 10 games at running back. The New Jersey native emerged as the CIAA’s freshman of the year by securing the highest rushing yards among all conference rookies with 910, while maintaining an impressive average of 5.4 yards per carry. Consistency is a major contributor in Byers’ gameplay. For the 2021-2022 season he averaged almost 100 yards per game.

Despite the blowout performance, Byers’ humility proved that there’s always room for improvement. He reflects on his freshman year and acknowledges the areas where he made mistakes, such as missed blocks and incorrect reads.

“Once you figure out what you did wrong in the past season, you’re gonna come back in stronger in the next season,” Byers said. I think that can relate to both football and life if you ask me.

Virginia Union Jada Byers God

Moving to his sophomore year with Virginia Union, Jada Byers was virtually untouchable averaging more than 174 yards each game. Within the first five games of the season accumulated 891 rushing yards and 194 yards per game. With 11 rushing touchdowns, which was was more than half of the CIAA, he held top spot nationally in Division II for both categories. In Week Two, Byers achieved a historic feat by setting a new CIAA record with a heavy 319 rushing yards.

Ending the 2022-2023 season Byers earned a multitude of awards: Don Hansen Division II College Football Player of the Year, CIAA Player of the Year, Willie Lanier Award, and First Team All-CIAA player along with the HBCU Gameday/Protect Your Skull POTY. He even signed an NIL Deal with 4th Quarter Performance.

Virginia Union Jada Byers God

Now, Jada Byers, has his eyes set on breaking Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders’ rushing record. During the 1988 season with Oklahoma State, the Heisman winner had 2,628 total rushing yards and 37 touchdowns.

“The least I would take as an HBCU [player] is 2,500 rush yards and 30 plus touchdowns, that’s the least I’m taking. But in my mind I feel as though God said I’m gifted enough to go get it done so I’m gonna try to go get it done.”

As an HBCU player, Jada understands the significance of community. The Virginia Union player holds a late-night football camp throughout the week to give high school and college athletes the opportunity to train and work on their skills.

“If you were to go to Florida or Atlanta they have fields where you could be out there until two o’clock in the morning working out, we don’t have that where I’m from so I’m trying to start that now. That’s what the community’s seeing me like that’s the kid that can start everything for us to be great and put our whole community on the map.”

Virginia Union Jada Byers God

Jada Byers is a remarkable football player with a deep-rooted belief in his abilities. He recognizes the role that God plays in his life and is grateful for the opportunities he has been given. Byers is a living example of “with God all things are possible.” Jada’s journey is a testament to the power of perseverance, faith, and the unwavering support of his community.

God Wrote My Story: Record-setting HBCU RB talks family, faith and football
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