Freshman Cornerback John Reid, The Present And Future Of Penn State’s Secondary
John Reid entered this year with no one knowing what to expect. One of the highest recruited cornerbacks to ever come to Penn State, he has been thrust into the spotlight lately and is someone that fans should check out. It’s not everyday that a freshman is an instant starter, but John Reid isn’t your ordinary freshman. The four-star recruit out of St. Joseph’s (Philadelphia, PA) Class of 2015 has the natural ability to become a star. He was the top-rated cornerback in PA and racked up numerous accolades in high school. He was honored as All-Catholic League MVP, first-team All-Catholic League on offense and defense, CBS Philly’s Player of the Year, Pennsylvania Football News Defensive Player of the Year, and first-team All-State in 2014 while also leading St. Joseph’s Prep School to back-to-back PIAA Class AAAA Championships in 2013 and 2014.
Of course, all those awards mean nothing if you can’t produce in prime-time college football. He flashed the skills necessary in his first game as a starter against Temple and he is only going to grow from there. Though he recorded only five tackles in the loss, he is the type of player that impacts games without filling the stat book. His coverage, for the most part, was on point and although he seemed lost on a few plays, that is an unavoidable consequence when taking into account the increase of speed the college game brings compared to high school football. Starting corner Trevor Williams has taken an interest in Reid and praises his football IQ and competitiveness. Coach James Franklin isn’t surprised at all that that Reid has begun to excel in games. He praises his intensity, not only on game days but during practices as well. The freshman hates to lose and leaves it all on the field every time he plays.
One of the things Reid isn’t afraid to do is challenge opposing receivers. Although he’s only 5-foot-10 and 186 lbs, the freshman can be seen scrapping on almost every play. He constantly competes on all downs and lines up completely unafraid to be physical with who he is asked to cover. This rambunctious, aggressive attitude is exactly what the Nittany Lions are looking for in their corners. With a second consecutive start in the Buffalo win, Reid used his athleticism to help shut down the Bulls.
He is learning very fast, and that was shown prominently in the Nittany Lions’ most recent win over Rutgers. Although Grant Haley’s return from injury meant that Reid didn’t start the game, he garnered his first career interception, right at the start of the third quarter. The play was beautifully read, as Reid jumped the route and made the easy interception on a pass thrown by Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano. His awareness is impeccable and Saturday he did not play like a freshman who was in only his third career game. Reid complemented his interception with a 44-yard return to place Penn State in great field position. Reid is a stud athlete and when he weaved in out of tacklers on the return, his speed and natural ball skills were prominently shown. He performed much more like a veteran and flaunted it with a fumble recovery and just all around fast play. His hard work and natural talent have combined to form a key component in the Penn State defense. Don’t be surprised if you hear No. 29’s name called a lot this season.