As far as improvements go, it was hard to find a player at Florida State University’s Tuesday Pro Day that had come further than Greg Reid.
Unfortunately for Reid — who is looking for an NFL shot after experiencing more than a fair share of turmoil in his personal life — there is no metric for evaluating maturity. No, sadly, most of the progress Greg Reid has made wasn’t going to show in a 40 yard dash or a shuttle drill.
But that doesn’t make it any less impressive.
Almost two years ago, as the Seminoles prepared to start their 2012 football season, Reid’s time at Florida State officially ended. Just a day earlier the talented corner (who would’ve been a senior) was named a second team preseason All-American, but a slew of off-the-field incidents had already done enough to ensure that he would no longer have a place on the Seminole roster come Fall — he was dismissed from the football team for the “violation of team rules” on August 1, 2012.
So Reid withdrew from FSU and enrolled at Valdosta State to play his final season of college football, but that ended prematurely too — this time in the form of a torn ACL before he could even take the field for the Blazers.
In a matter of weeks Reid had gone from the best player in the Florida State secondary — a fan-favorite with a solid draft stock — to an injured player from a small school with virtually no draft stock.
He returned to Florida State for last year’s Pro Day as a shell of his former self. A botched ACL surgery forced him to work out injured and effectively ended the slim draft prospects he still clung to. The NFL Draft came and went, as did OTA’s and minicamps, then another football season. All the while Greg Reid’s phone stayed silent.
A lot of young men in that situation would feel abandoned, feel forgotten. In many a story, a year like Greg Reid had in 2012 would be the start of one’s personal decline.
This isn’t that kind of story.
On Tuesday, nearly two years after being dismissed from FSU, Reid was back at Florida State for Pro Day looking like his old self — but sounding like a new man.
“I feel 100% better. I believe I’m a better man than I was two or three years ago and I believe I’m blessed to be feeling the way I feel, so I feel a lot better,” said Reid as he stood inside the Al Dunlap practice facility.
“It’s always great to come back, especially to see Jimbo and just to see all the guys from the national championship and see how hard they’re working. And just to be in this new building, man. This is beautiful, and I enjoy it, I enjoy working, especially with the Seminole family.”
If it doesn’t sound like Reid harbors any ill-will about the way things ended at FSU, it’s probably because he doesn’t. FSU may have kicked him off the team, but his relationship with Jimbo Fisher has endured and Reid’s respect for his former coach is unparalleled — as was evidenced by the hug the two men shared near midfield at the start of the day.
“You know I never really grew up and had like a mentor or a guy I looked up to and I think Coach Fisher is becoming one of those guys to my life,” said Reid. “Because of all of the things we went through, and just to see him succeed and I know the things he was telling me were the right things and just like I said just seeing him be successful like he is that means a lot to me. A handshake is one thing but a hug is very huge and important to my life.”
Said Fisher: “We spend a lot of time in the offseason talking and my wife even talks to him, he comes around and goes to a lot of games, we give him tickets to games and things, I think Greg is a tremendous human being, always have and he’s one of my favorite guys that I’ve ever coached.”
Rarely do you gain insight into the kind of relationships coaches actually have with their players (beyond the typical party-lines given in interviews), but Reid helps Florida State fans pull back the curtain a little bit. If winning was all that mattered to Jimbo Fisher then his relationship with Reid would’ve ended the day he was kicked off the team. It didn’t. Fisher continued to try and help guide Reid even when there was nothing Reid could offer Fisher in return.
That hasn’t been lost on Greg Reid.
“That’s one of the reasons we have the top recruiting classes and that was one of the reasons I came here, was I believe in Coach Fisher. And I think he has that effect on everybody’s life,” said Reid. “The way he treats his children, for us playing football he looks at us like his children as well.”
For a young man in need of direction, that guidance can be instrumental — even if it doesn’t sink in until it’s too late.
Almost two years after being booted from Florida State’s football team, it finally appears to have sunk in. Reid carries himself differently these days, his brash confidence seemingly replaced by a sense of humility. And, fortunately for him, it still may not be ‘too late.’
The page has turned on Reid at FSU, but the corner from Lowndes County, Georgia still clings to his NFL dreams.
“He’s great and he still has it too,” said S Terrence Brooks after watching Reid at Pro Day.
“I was so happy to see him out there doing the drills, he looks great. I hope somebody takes a chance on him, because they’re going to get a good guy.”
Added LB Telvin Smith: “Man, it’s nothing but smiles this way for my cousin just because I’ve seen that guy battle. Like I just said, talk about overcoming obstacles and stuff like that, I’ve seen him battle. I’ve seen him go back down after battle and come back and he’s still standing tall. You can’t do nothing but respect that and that’s why I love him so much, that’s what he’s shown me over time.”
Still, the odds are not necessarily in Reid’s favor. He has been out of football for over a year and despite his performance on Tuesday questions about his health will persist. And then there are the ‘character issues’ that NFL teams love to focus on come the final weeks of the Draft season.
Ironically — considering he was the coach that kicked Reid out — Jimbo Fisher seems the least concerned about that last knock, the character issues.
He’s more than willing to go to bat for his former player.
“I hope Greg gets a shot because I’m going to tell you what, that’s as instinctive and one of the best football players I’ve ever been around,” said FSU’s fifth-year head coach. “For him to be able to battle back it shows how committed he is, he’s done a great job in his life being very successful right now and I think if someone gets him in camp they’re going to be very happy.”
For now though, Reid is still just waiting for a chance. After going undrafted last year, that could come in the form of a contract, an invite to a minicamp, anything.
“All I need is one shot,” said Reid. “I don’t really know about feedback [from teams] or what they’re telling me, I just know I’m blessed to be here.”
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