Reed Draws Raves On, Off Field

All Verlon Reed wanted to be was a Buckeye quarterback, and he'll get that chance after signing with Ohio State on Wednesday. Reed talked about his chance as well as what he'll bring off the field to the Buckeyes after his school's signing day ceremony, and was there to capture the scene.

When coaches and administrators at Columbus Marion-Franklin High School went up to the podium this morning to discuss Verlon Reed's signing with Ohio State, football was on the back burner in many of their comments.

Reed is the first Red Devil to sign with the hometown Buckeyes since Percy King in the 1990s and the first Columbus city schools player to sign since Sirjo Welch, Dionte Johnson and Erik Haw did so in 2004.

As a result, many of those in the community were happy to see Reed succeed not just because of his traits on the football field but also because of the qualities he has that might inspire others in his wake to become similar success stories.

"It's very exciting (signing today), but it's just a steppingstone, not just for me but for the city also," Reed said in Marion-Franklin's library after students packed the school's auditorium for the signing ceremony. "Everybody has a chance to make it. Not just the suburban kids – anybody from anywhere, as long as you do the right thing, it will pay off for you."

The quarterback did that both on and off the field, leading the Red Devils to the state semifinals last year and also serving as a respected member of the Marion-Franklin community.

His stats – which included 2,800 total yards and 36 touchdowns during his senior year, and head coach Brian Haffele said Reed had more than 1,600 yards in the playoffs – helped earn him an offer from Ohio State once December came around, but he had another answer when asked what got him the coveted document from Jim Tressel and the Scarlet and Gray.

"My character," he said. "I make sure I make the right decision. I don't go out and do things I'm not supposed to do. They want people that are going to represent the university well, and I think was the reason right there."

When asked what his hobbies are, Reed said he just likes to stay at home and watch television rather than go out and find trouble. It wasn't much of a surprise, then, that those who know Reed couldn't stop raving about his traits on signing day.

"Verlon Reed is a pillar of Marion-Franklin High School," athletic director Scott Williams said. "We're talking character here, we're talking leadership, we're talking those kinds of qualities, and that speaks volumes what Ohio State is looking for."

Reed also had a simple answer when asked what he showed this year above others.

"Leadership," he said. "My junior year, we had all the star players so I played the role like I stepped back and stayed back and chipped in a little bit. This year I had to step up more, I was watching extra film, working harder in practice, making sure I wasn't slacking, making sure I kept leadership, kept everybody working hard and drove everybody to their best."

Reed's road to Ohio State started when he arrived at Marion-Franklin as a freshman and told the coaching staff that he would be the next Buckeye to come from the Red Devil program.

"It's crazy, just last week I was thinking about wanting to be a Buckeye," he said. "I told my coaches I was going to be a Buckeye. Now for this to come true, it's a very big deal."

He took over as the quarterback as a sophomore, then truly starred as a senior in leading the team to within one game of the state finals. In the second round of the playoffs, Reed came down with a sickness that nearly kept him out against Olentangy Orange, but he gutted through the performance to keep the team alive.

"He put so much ownership on our team," Haffele said. "He felt like he had to be perfect, and a lot of the times he was. I told him just to go be himself. When he was himself, he was at his best, and our big games he was at his best and that was a big thing for us."

Haffele said Reed is adept at breaking down coverages and can throw ropes to his receivers from the opposite hash, skills that will be necessary at the next level, and Ohio State has committed to giving him a shot to start under center.

"It showed that they know what I really can do and what I bring to the team not only as a player but as a person as well," Reed said. "They've seen something in me that they like, so I'm pretty sure that's what gave me the opportunity."

While it sounds as though a lot of pressure has been put on the young man to represent his community well, he said he's not worried about what the future will bring.

"I get that a lot," he said of people coming up to him and telling him what has accomplishments mean to the community, "but it's a great feeling to know that I have an opportunity to change the whole community. It's no pressure at all. It's a great feeling. You can always turn something into a positive, and that's what I have the opportunity to do."

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