Rookie LB Reeder Helps Charge Up Penn State Defense

Making his first career start in his first career home game left the redshirt freshman linebacker feeling "electric."

Troy Reeder’s first career start at Penn State came on a rainy Saturday against a blah opponent, in a stadium that was, perhaps, two-thirds full.

And yet, he said Wednesday, “It was electric for me.”

The redshirt freshman outside linebacker helped make it so, recording seven tackles in last Saturday’s 27-14 victory over Buffalo.

“He seemed like he was all over the field,” head coach James Franklin said afterward, “and he did really well for a redshirt freshman.”

The 6-foot-1, 236-pound Reeder stepped in at weakside linebacker for Jason Cabinda, who moved to the middle in place of Nyeem Wartman-White. Wartman-White was lost for the season after injuring his left knee in the season-opening loss to Temple.

“It was really exciting,” Reeder said. “I had a lot of fun out there. … In the same sense, it was something I’ve mentally prepared for for so long and dreamt about for so long that I felt like as exciting as it was, it kept the nerves away – just feeling like I had been there before, preparing like a starter, even when I wasn’t.”

He was slowed by bacterial infections early in preseason camp – “I got strep twice in a row; I pretty much had strep for 23 straight days,” he said – but appears to be fine now.

“It took him a little while to bounce back,” head coach James Franklin said Tuesday. “In the last couple weeks he's really come on strong -- fortunately for us, right at the right time, as we lost some guys.”

Reeder, a native of Wilmington, Del., comes from an athletic family. His dad, Dan, was a running back at Boston College and Delaware, and a fifth-round pick of the Los Angeles Raiders in 1985. He played 13 games over two seasons (1986-87) for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And Troy’s mom, Cheryl, played basketball at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College from 1982-84. She was part of a Division III national championship team the first of those seasons.

Troy said both his parents emphasized work ethic, and trying to excel in every endeavor.

“They turned me into somebody who sometimes is way too competitive, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. “That’s part of my game that I think really helps – just being so competitive. They never let me play down to lower-level competition. They were both always on my butt.”

He starred in lacrosse at Salesianum High school, and really loved the game. Still does, in fact. Said that sometimes he will take his stick outside his apartment and bang the ball off a wall.

But coming out of high school he figured football was the way to go. His first major-college scholarship offer came from Rutgers, this week’s opponent, but when the assistant who was recruiting him went elsewhere Reeder said he felt “a little bit disconnected.” He never visited the school.

And once he visited Penn State, he said, “It was kind of love at first sight.”

Reeder showed so much promise in practice last season, Franklin said, that the coaches considered burning his redshirt. Ultimately they did not, and Reeder said he learned some invaluable lessons from middle linebacker Mike Hull, his roommate in preseason camp and at road games.

“Even if it wasn’t something he was directly teaching me, just watching him in general (was helpful),” Reeder said. “He taught me how to practice. He taught me how to conduct (myself) as a leader of the defense. He was a great captain.”

Reeder can only hope to follow a similar career path. He can only hope that his play proves to be, well, electrifying.

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