FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)--Those closest to Akial Byers say that between his sophomore and junior season, football began to click.
"I didn't know this was in him. He started his junior year and shot off like a rocket. I'm the proudest mom ever," his mom Juneeka Byers said.
"I feel like he just came on, started figuring out that he's a pretty good player. He just really figured out that he has to work hard for what he wants," said quarterback Taylor Powell.
Byers said he worked on his speed, hands and moves, all of which enabled him to commit to Alabama. First year coach Bill Blankenship understood how special a player he had right away.
"He's got some special DNA, I mean he's go that special quick twitch for a big guy that you just don't find in very many people," Blankenship said. "He was just a guy, and then all the sudden he really arrived on the scene so to speak. He started figuring it out that he could play and he'd play with great energy."
Byers added, "My sophomore year I really wasn't too into it like I was now. I'm focused, I work out all the time."
All that extra work has payed off. Fayetteville plays North Little Rock on Friday night at 7PM, looking for their second straight 7A state championship.