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John Reid Brings Veteran Presence To Young Defense

Cornerback John Reid is entering the 2019 season as one of the most experienced players on Penn State’s defense.

The redshirt senior has had his fair share of ups and downs in State College, including a spring ball injury that forced him to sit out the entire 2017 season.

Now entering his final season at Penn State, Reid is excited about where the defensive unit he leads can go.

“There is no lack of guys attacking the ball,” Reid said. “We’re all looking, attacking, and playing the ball, and we did a great job of that this camp.”

Reid’s confidence is warranted. The Nittany Lions have several assets returning. Captains Cam Brown, Jan Johnson, and Garrett Taylor all have the experience and talent to lead a talented group of younger players that includes the firepower trio of Yetur Gross-Matos, Micah Parsons, and Shaka Toney.

Due to the abundance of athletic players it has, Penn State expects to create and capitalize on turnovers throughout the 2019 campaign. Brown led the team with three forced fumbles last season, but James Franklin and the rest of his staff would love to raise that statistic. The head coach has a clear plan on how his team can try to force more miscues for opposing offenses.

“The other thing is making sure that we are prepared both mentally and physically to handle situational football,” Franklin said. “And then, obviously, build the confidence up that when those moments come, that we’re all confident to make the play when the play comes.”

Fans would probably expect one of the older, high-profile defensive players to be a leader in terms of forcing turnovers, but when Reid was asked who led the team in takeaways over camp, he had a different answer: freshman cornerback Keaton Ellis.

While Ellis is currently listed as a second-team corner behind Reid, it’s never a problem to have talent up and down the roster. He is one of several young players that bring plenty of excitement to the defense’s aggressive style of play alongside Jayson Oweh and Lamont Wade.

Penn State’s defense allowed just 20.5 points per game in 2018, the fourth-best mark in the Big Ten. While this is a solid stat, if the Nittany Lions can find a way to force more turnovers and possibly even score off of them — it’s hard to imagine that they can’t become the top defense in the conference and one of the best in the nation.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]


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