Lincoln, NE - Teammates have always called him "speed," but Nebraska senior tight end Kyler Reed didn't feel very fast last year. Nagging injuries throughout the entire season didn't allow him to build on his eight touchdown performance in 2010.
But as spring practices resume this week, Reed is healthy and excited for the future of the tight end position.
The truth is, neither tight end was healthy at the same time last year. Reed was bothered by a high ankle sprain during the Huskers first couple of contests. Then was slowed by a hamstring injury. Cotton missed the last two regular season games with a shoulder sprain before coming back for the Capital One Bowl.
Now with both healthy, Nebraska could look to get both more involved in the game plan together, much similar to 2010.
"What I did two years ago when I was healthy was perfect," said Reed. "We did a lot two tight end sets and Ben was on the front side as a main blocker. I was on the back side, so I didn't have to block the bigger guys as much.
"I got a lot of routes and a lot of opportunities to go against safeties and linebackers. It's how I got those eight touchdowns. I would like to see myself split out a little bit, but it's still early in spring, so we are not worried about stuff like that."
It's not just the fifth year senior hoping to see both him and Cotton get more involved.
"It's something we talked about in the offseason, making sure we make a concerted effort to get those guys the football and really have those guys on the field together," said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. "They are really getting comfortable in the offense, so I think they are only going to get better."
After only recording 15 catches last season, Reed could be the forgotten weapon in 2012. It was evident last year when he hit the field, defenses were paying extra attention to him – emphasizing the Kansas native as a receiving threat when lining up.
Reed's injury troubles didn't just start last season.
As a redshirt freshman in 2009, he had hard time staying on the field. Multiple big hits and a nagging knee strain slowed him for much of the season.
"We were designing a lot of things that wanted to use his talents and abilities. So every time he wasn't there, we could see the difference," said his position coach Ron Brown towards the end of last season. "All of us coaches decided to really come around Kyler Reed. Instead of feeling like he was always letting us down, we wanted him to know how important he really could be."
Reed responded in 2010, starting the year off slow, but eventually coming up with big contests against Oklahoma State (2 catches, 58 yards, touchdown), Missouri (2 catches, 51 yards, and a touchdown) and Iowa State (3 catches for 52 yards).