A solid contributor at wide receiver his first four years with the Tigers, Reed caught 39 passes for 384 yards and one touchdown, but it wasn’t the kind of production expected of the former big-time Louisiana recruit. With a need for defensive back help and a load of talent at wide receiver, Reed made the move to defense in the spring and hasn’t looked back.
Already with an interception on the season, Reed was called on for an even bigger role in last week’s win over Kansas State and delivered. With Jermaine Whitehead suspended, Josh Holey made the move to field safety. That means everyone at the cornerback position moved up a slot as well in the playing rotation.
Picking off his second pass of the year and playing good technique at cornerback, Reed has come on strong for the Tigers and should only get better with more playing time. Holsey said it’s not a surprise to see Reed doing so well because of the work he puts in to being a great player.
“I'm really happy for him,” Holsey said. “I know he works hard every day. He stays after practice every day. He's in the film room every day. Whenever I talk to him, he's trying to get better. He asks me for tips. I'm just happy for him that he's doing what he's doing. I just hope he continues to keep doing well. I'm actually glad he's on the defensive side. That gives us some more depth in the corner room. He's showing up. He's going to be a big part of our defense for the rest of the year.”
In addition to his physical play on the field, Reed also brings an extra dynamic to the table for the Auburn defense because of his history on offense. Knowing what wide receivers are taught about routes and alignment, Reed is sharing that knowledge with his teammates and Holsey said it has already proven to be very important for the Tigers.
“From him playing receiver, he knows splits,” Holsey said. “We'll ask him for split rules. He'll tell you if a receiver is this far, he's running this. If he's this far in, he's running that. That helps us a lot as a defense by asking him because he knows sometimes just based off of splits what the wide receiver is going to run. T-Reed brings that to the room because he played wide receiver, you know? He really recognizes splits and how they come off the ball. That's helped us as both corners and safeties.”
Malzahn agrees with Holsey when talking about Reed’s development as a player. A strong man coverage defensive back, his head coach said you can tell he has a good idea about how offenses are trying to attack the secondary and that gives him a leg up.
“Offenses are very similar with splits and down and distance and route combinations and everything that goes with that,” Malzahn said. “Anytime you’ve got a guy that has been on the offensive side for as long as he has, a lot of times he’ll know what’s coming before it’s coming. I think that will really help him and I think you’ve already seen that it has helped him in certain situations. He’s off to a very good start and I feel like the more experience he gets out there the more comfortable he will be. Anytime you change positions there is nothing better than Saturday to get better and feel more comfortable.”
With just a third of the season gone, the opportunities for Reed are only going to increase as he continues to learn more about the finer points of playing defensive back. Always a favorite of his team because of his personality, Malzahn said it’s great to see Reed having so much success as a senior.
“It’s very rewarding,” Malzahn added of Reed’s success. “He’s a very good person. He’s a super person off the field. It’s really good to see him being successful on the field and making plays and having fun and really helping our team.”