KyleRowland">Rowland | Givler
Fall camp at Ohio State has led to a few pleasant surprises around the program with some unexpected names stepping to the forefront and establishing themselves as potential breakout players this season. At the very top of that list would have to be redshirt freshman wide receiver Verlon Reed. The 6-foot, 190-pounder has made outstanding strides this off-season as he continues to make the transition from high school quarterback to college wide receiver.
"Everything has been good with the transition (to receiver)," Reed said. "It took me a little while but things are starting to slow down for me and my game speed is starting to pick up a little bit."
Reed's progress has been noticed by media, coaches, and fellow players alike as Reed has been running with the first team throughout fall camp. For Reed, the basics of the wide receiver position have come easy, it's the little intracacies of the position that he continues to work the hardest at.
"I think just being an athlete, catching the ball, and the big things came pretty easy," he said. "The small things are the things that really matter. A lot of people don't understand that, being a receiver, there are a lot of small things that you have to do."
While Reed is happy with his current role on the team, the idea that he would no longer be playing quarterback did take some getting used to.
"They put me in the position that they thought was best for the team," he said. "I didn't argue with that. Of course it hurt me a little bit (not being able to play QB) but you don't let that hold you down and you just have to fight through it. I stuck with it and I have a great opportunity."
Things look to have worked out for Reed as he now prepares to see plenty of action this season. His time as a quarterback all the way from youth football to the high school level, has had its benefits.
"It helps me because I can think like a quarterback but play as a receiver," he explained. "I know what the quarterbacks mostly want with the routes and with the timing."
With the suspension of senior Devier Posey for the first five games, the receiver position is seriously lacking in the experience department, allowing for players like Reed to step up and contribute. Reed says Posey hasn't let the suspension bring him down and has served as a leader for a lot of the younger receivers during camp.
"Posey has stepped up a lot throughout the whole camp," he said. "Ever since we got back together (for camp), he's been on us non-stop, texting us, calling us, making sure that we're on top of our game. We struggled a little bit at first but everyone has been coming around great."
For anyone that is surprised that Reed has taken to the wide receiver position so quickly, a simple background check on his history should alleviate those feelings. The reality is that Reed has been beating the odds for years. Growing up on Columbus' south side in the Southfield neighborhood, a tough neighborhood that has seen some great athletes through the years, Reed has already come farther than many of his peers.
"(The neighborhood) means a lot to me," he said. "A lot of people come from bad backgrounds and not everyone is born with everything that they want so you have to work for it. I'm in that same situation but I don't let that hold me down, I just use it as motivation. When things get tough and I get tired, I just think about all the people (from Southfield) that would want to be in my shoes."
Reed tries to make the short trip home as often as possible and is always greeted warmly whenever he returns.
"I have a lot of good friends back there," he said. "Everyone is out there trying to do something positive with their life so that is the great thing about it. So going back there it always a good feeling."
Reed senses the strong desire for him to succeed from people around the neighborhood. Southfield has produced some extraordinary athletes over the years, many of whom people outside of Columbus have never heard of because they never made it out. Reed acknowledges this and it's not something he plans to run or hide from.
"Of course there's pressure within that but I embrace that," he said. "There's always challenges so this is just another challenge that I can step up and complete. It's not just necessarily on the field but with school. Of course you can come on the football field and be the best player but if you're not doing it in the classroom it doesn't mean a thing."
Quite simply, beating the odds is all that Reed has ever done. From surviving an upbringing in a tough neighborhood and making it to college, to proving high school talent evaluators wrong, to learning and excelling at a position that he had never played before, Verlon Reed has and will continue to beat the odds.