The transition really began in 2009 when Reed had three freshmen starting in the secondary in cornerback C.J. Wilson and safeties Earl Wolff and Brandan Bishop. The group was torched much of the season, finishing the year ranked No. 106 in pass efficiency defense. However, Reed saw that the future was bright and stuck with his inexperienced group.
"The thing is, we couldn't keep beating them down, we had to hug them sometimes," said Reed. "We saw the progress they were making and we knew they wanted to be successful. They wanted to give the fans and everyone the feeling of success.
"They grasped it and worked extremely hard. They wanted to perfect their craft and be the best they could be. Remember, we basically had them fresh out of high school... C.J. Wilson had barely played defense before. There was an adjustment period and we knew we had to be patient with them because the potential and upside was there."
The group added a freshman, David Amerson, in 2010 and steadily improved before really emerging in 2011. State's defensive backs led the country in interceptions with 27 and Amerson, Wolff, and Bishop are now potential All-ACC players.
With that success came attention from other college programs for Reed. Multiple schools came calling and offered coaching positions to Reed, and he seriously considered those offers before choosing to remain at NC State.
"Well, I have two little girls and Raleigh is a great place to live," said Reed. "There are a lot of places in this country where you don't want your family to grow up and this isn't one of them.
"Also, the fans love it. I compare them to the fans in Philadelphia but aren't as violent [laughing]. They are into football and love the game. That appeals to me."
"The other thing is I couldn't leave my kids," he added. "They came in as babies and now they are grown up. When you factor them in with the guys we've recruited it was best for me to stay.
"It felt nice to be recognized for doing a good job, but at the end of the day family is first. Between my blood family, my DB family, my NC State family, and the other coaches here, I didn't want to leave. It's hard to leave the nest."
Now the challenge for Reed and his group is not only duplicating their success but reaching the lofty expectations that will be placed on them entering the 2012 season.
"Every year at the beginning of the season I take one of the preseason magazines and post the ACC and NCAA defensive back rankings in our meeting room," said Reed. "I tell them, we want to be at the top every year. We want to be what people talk about. We had a lot of interceptions last year, but now we have to go out and do it again. One season is not going to make us.
"I think the guys have handled the expectations very well so far and a big reason for that is their experience. They understand it and they know where we want to be and that we can continue to improve."