Actually, they were pretty lousy. The Pilot football team had only two coaches-one for offense and one for defense. There was no real weight room, but the fifteen varsity players did bring some weights from home so they could at least try to get an occasion workout in the gym. The football squad had only a twenty-five yard strip of land with no goalposts for a practice field, and Murray Wright played EVERY game on the road because it didn't have a home football field. Still, the squad managed to win a championship with its 9-3 overall record and 6' 3"/244 pound defensive end.
On signing day, the name Ralston Reeves was a bit of a surprise to Bearcat fans. The scout.com network had no articles and very little information on the Detroit prospect, but according to Ralston, he was not a total mystery. "I got letters from maybe 15 or 16 schools, but Cincinnati showed the most interest. They came up to my school and my house a lot. They even helped me figure out what I needed to do to be able to come and play football."
Ralston set up five visits but made only two of them. His two trips were to Cincinnati and Delaware State. After committing to the Bearcats, Reeves cancelled visits to several impressive schools. "I cancelled visits to Wisconsin, Michigan State and South Carolina. I had some other schools offer that I wasn't going to visit, but Wisconsin offered me."
The Bearcat staff assigned Trevor Anderson, another inner city Detroit player, as Ralston's host. Ralston and Trevor had crossed paths previously on the football field in high school and Ralston remembered. "I played everywhere in high school, and I remember playing against him. I was on offense, and he was on defense. I had to block against him for about three plays."
Even though Ralston has been playing football since he was ten years old, he's still somewhat inexperienced. "I didn't play at all my 9th grade year because of an injury, and my 10th grade year I missed three games because of an Achilles tendon strain that caused my knee to hurt a lot."
Moving up to the next level is always a challenge, so Ralston was asked about his strengths and weaknesses. "I catch a lot of people. I'm real quick and aggressive. I make a lot of plays, and people don't expect me to be so fast. A lot of times when I force a fumble (15 his senior season), I hit the quarterback (20 sacks) before he gets the ball to the running back." As far as his weaknesses, Ralston answered literally. "Probably my strength." Ralston weighed about 270 pounds his sophomore year so Coach Swanger and his weight lifting crew could make this young man into a beast very shortly.
Ralston was recognized as a member of the Michigan Blue Chip Team. He explained that this honor goes to the top 50 players in the state. He was also named 2nd team all-state in both his junior and senior seasons. In the spring, Ralston will play baseball and run track. "The baseball games are Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the track meets are Mondays and Wednesdays." In track the big fella is actually a sprinter-if you can believe that. "I run the 100 meters, the 4 x 100 relay, and the 4 x 200 relay." Of course, I had to know his 100 meter time and promptly fell off my chair after hearing it. "The last time I ran it, I think I ran it in 10.7 seconds." He also reports a 4.61 forty time.
Despite these impressive credentials, Ralston has modest goals for next season. "I'm just trying to get better so I can keep up with the rest of those guys that have been there."
The family has a history of producing fine athletes including Reggie Harding, who played for the Detroit Pistons in the 1960's. "Yeah, he's my uncle, but I really don't know a lot about him. My dad ran track at Michigan-Dearborn, and I have two uncles on my mother's side that were good basketball players. One went to Northern Michigan I think."
When making his official visit to Cincinnati in January, you might guess what stood out. "I really liked the stadium and the weightroom. In my whole high school career, I never had a home game. We just got a football field this year, but we couldn't play on it."
Ralston finally has a home field, and Bearcat fans can help welcome him to that new home on September 2 when UC opens its season against Eastern Kentucky.