Last August, senior defensive end Cedric Reed was nothing more than “the other guy.”
Star defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat was returning for his senior season as the leader of the Texas defense, and hardly anybody even knew who the other defensive end was.
Now, just a year later, Reed is one of the most recognizable names on the Texas roster and has taken over as the leader of the Longhorn defense.
It may have been overshadowed by Jeffcoat’s incredible campaign last year, but Reed’s 2013 season was impressive in it’s own right, and the numbers back it up. Reed, a native of Cleveland, Texas, finished the season with 79 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. If he weren’t playing alongside a consensus All-American, he might as well have been the best defensive player on the team.
Since then, Reed has been working with the new Texas coaching staff to improve his game, as he looks to replicate Jeffcoat’s accomplishments from last year.
“Just being with [strength] Coach [Pat] Moorer in one offseason, it is amazing to see what happened,” Reed said. “I put on about 10-15 pounds, and I can definitely feel it out on the field. It hasn’t slowed me down a bit.”
The physical improvements may be more obvious to the average eye, but it is Reed’s improvements on the mental side of the game that have impressed his coaches most.
“I can see plays more now,” Reed said. “With [defensive line] coach [Chris] Rumph I see a lot more things. My awareness is high. I think I am a better player than I was last year.”
It is to nobody’s amazement that the 6-foot-5-inch senior’s game has improved drastically compared to where he was last summer. But even Reed, who has always been quiet, has been surprised by how much he’s developed as a leader in his final season.
“When we were at workouts, I said something, and I turned around and these little freshmen had these little puppy faces, and they were just looking at me like, ‘What do we do next?’” Reed said. “It just surprises you how much your leadership grows when you become a senior. Rumph got after me a little bit when he first got here because I was all quiet, and it just wasn’t me. But I think I really surprised myself with some of the leadership roles I’ve put on for him.”
Just as Reed was an unknown commodity a year ago, junior defensive end Shiro Davis is the unproven guy this year. If Davis can benefit from Reed’s improved leadership skills, don’t be surprised to see this article again next year, with Davis replacing Reed. The only question is, who will be “the other guy?”