• Name: Justin Reid
• Height/Weight: 6-0, 193
• Position: Safety
• Hometown: Geismar, La.
• High School: Dutchtown
• Assets: A light-on-his-feet, bouncy athlete who plays with greater length than his 6-foot-0 listing would indicate. Lithe, agile player who uses his long reach to alter the opposing team’s passing game. A nice combination of athleticism and well-developed upper body with room for additional growth.
A ball hawk on the back end because of the above-mentioned skills, but also a physical player who loves to lay the lumber. A big-time hitter who remains fundamentally sound by showing good wrapping skills. Shows the ability to break down, stay square and not overcommit while making a tackle in the open field. Really gets into the lower body of ball carriers/pass receivers.
His length also aids him when closing in on a tackle. A couple of quick, loping strides gets him from point A to point B in a hurry. Because of these skills, he also would be an ideal special teams performer, particularly on kick coverage, although he’s also shown a willingness to block on punt returns.
• Room for improvement: There’s nothing glaringly absent from his game. The 4.64 time Scout lists him with in the 40 is a red flag, but there’s nothing in his game footage that indicates he lacks the quickness to get around the field and make plays. If he were taller than 6-foot-0, he would be listed as such, but he plays longer than the measurables.
• Schools of interest: Notre Dame; SEC: LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State; Pac 12: Arizona State, Stanford, Utah; Big 12: Kansas State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas Tech; Big Ten: Minnesota.
• The latest line: Just off a visit to Stanford, Reid -- the younger brother of former LSU standout and current San Francisco 49er Eric Reid -- is considering LSU and Oklahoma as well with a trip to Notre Dame slated this weekend.
“There’s some pressure for me to attend LSU, but not from my family because they’re going to let me make my own decision,” said Reid to Scout’s/Irish Illustrated’s Anna Hickey. “My brother doesn’t really talk to me about it much because he’s doing his own thing in the NFL.”
Two weeks ago, Reid told Hickey the he “basically (doesn’t) know a lot about Notre Dame at this point.”
Irish defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder got the ball rolling with Reid in mid-December.
“When Coach VanGorder came into my house, he told me about the opportunity I would have waiting for me at Notre Dame, and to me, it seems like a match,” Reid said. “Early playing time is a really big thing for me.”
Reid admitted that he was “surprised by what Notre Dame accomplished” in its 31-28 upset victory over LSU in the Music City Bowl.
• ND’s 2015 safety target number: Four
• ND’s 2015 safety recruiting: As indicated in the film review of Nathan Meadors (San Bernadino, Calif.), there likely remain several layers to this process at safety, particularly with the uncertainty of long-committed Prentice McKinney (Dallas, Texas), whose academic qualifications are in question, which prompted his visit to North Carolina this past weekend.
Solidly in the fold are Mykelti Williams (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Nicco Fertitta (Las Vegas, Nevada), although Williams is a bit undersized and Fertitta is, to be realistic, more of a special teams performer. Ashton White (Forestville, Md.) is a cornerback with safety skills, but measures less than 6-foot-0.
Other possibilities include: Reid, Meadors, Frank Buncom IV (San Diego, Calif.), who visited Notre Dame in October, Gary Jennings (Stafford, Va.), who now looks like a lock for the home-state Cavaliers with a promise of a shot at wide receiver, and Arrington Farrar (College Park, Md.), who is visiting Wisconsin this weekend. The Irish are still pushing for a visit from Arrington.
• ND’s 2015 safety depth chart: What was once a well-stocked position has become pretty threadbare. Starters Max Redfield (two years of eligibility) and Elijah Shumate (one) return, which is comforting since Austin Collinsworth is out of eligibility, Nicky Baratti is physically unable to perform, Drue Tranquill (three years) is coming off a torn ACL and is a somewhat precarious fit at safety anyway. Eilar Hardy – with a fifth year of eligibility -- is expected to transfer upon the conclusion of the spring semester.
Fifth-year senior Matthias Farley remains a possibility at safety, although defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder prefers him at the nickel. Another option is junior-to-be Devin Butler, who could shift to safety from cornerback if sophomore-to-be Nick Watkins and freshman Shaun Crawford emerge as solid backups behind expected starters Cole Luke and KeiVarae Russell, who is slated to return from exile this summer.
• Summary: He was underrated as a three star and, based upon the athleticism and play-making ability he showed as a senior at Dutchtown High School, was deserving of the fourth star that Scout bestowed upon him last week to bring him among the nation’s top 300 players.
Quite honestly, other than you just can’t make everyone a four-star prospect out of the chute, it’s a little fuzzy as to what had him in the three-star range from the outset. The lack of ideal height and 40 time make a three-star designation logical. But not all 6-foot-0, 4.64 40-yard guys are created equal, and that’s true of Reid.
Reid offers a nice combination of a physical presence in the box with the agility and length to play the deep ball. Those long strides and arms allow him to close on a pass, even if he’s yielded some space between him and the receiver. He also covers ground quickly when converging on the run. First and foremost, he plays with a physical maturity that shows his readiness for the next level, which he probably learned from big brother Eric.
Speaking of his brother, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 213 pounds, those are some mighty fine genes that little brother Justin shares. And when an NFL player is listed at 6-foot-1, he’s probably a little less than that, which makes his length comparable to Justin’s. If Eric can play with that frame for a defense like San Francisco’s, you can put down your red flags with this kid.
Now, who gets Reid’s skills on the collegiate level? LSU is the team to beat out of the gate, just because of familial connections, and Oklahoma remains a strong consideration coming off last weekend’s visit to Stanford.
There’s no way to evaluate Reid’s true interest in Notre Dame until after this weekend’s visit. The Irish should be rolling out the red carpet for Reid. (Unfortunately, the men’s basketball team will be in Raleigh, N.C. to take on North Carolina State, which takes away from the weekend experience.)
The lure for Reid to Notre Dame is the lack of bodies at safety and the opportunity for early playing time. No reason for the Irish to veer from that theme this weekend. Reid would be a huge catch at this stage of the game, but it’s a battle that likely will go down to the wire with the Irish – at least for now -- just off the lead pace.
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