Making the switch

Back in 2003 when L.A. Reed had just decided to commit to Texas Tech and was preparing for his senior year in high school, he told Red Raider fans, "Look out for me… because I'm going to give it everything I have." Almost five years later, Reed has made good on his promise.

Despite battling injuries and seeing limited playing time as a wide receiver, Reed has emerged as a fan favorite and a valuable member of the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

After an injury caused him to miss the last part of the season in 2007, Reed is looking to make his senior year a memorable one. For starters, he has switched from offense to defense, a move that is almost unheard of for a senior.

As a receiver, Reed saw limited playing time behind standouts including Danny Amendola and Jarrett Hicks. His biggest contributions came when he was on the field for special teams where he played as a kick returner and gunner.

Fans loved watching his raw speed and ability to lay a big hit, and obviously the defensive coaches noticed as well.

In addition to playing on special teams, L.A. will play at the strong safety position next year. He has worked extremely hard over the off season and throughout spring practices to learn his new position, and he's excited about playing on the defensive side of the ball.

"It's been a good switch so far. I'm just got to keep learning the defense. All the back peddling and stuff like that, I'm getting that down pretty good. And all it is now is just keep learning the defense, just keep making plays out here. I feel good."

His experience running routes and understanding of what receivers do to try to get open should give him an extra advantage when trying to cover them.

"That helps a lot too, when I don't know exactly what the defense is, you know, I can kind of read the receivers and see what they're doing. But the main thing is just getting comfortable with the defense and learning that, and then once you know that and then you know what the receivers are going to do, then that's when you can be unstoppable."

In addition to the skill and knowledge required to play safety, L.A. has the requisite attitude. He explains that although his sure hands may be helpful when it comes to making interceptions, "I'd really rather hit somebody than get a pick. If I get a chance to catch it or break on the catch I will."

The transition will also be eased because Reed has played on defense previously, and he's always been a standout on special teams.

"Even when I was little…I played a little bit on defense. It was just at the end of the game when they started throwing Hail Mary's and stuff. I've always been on defense a little bit. I played on special teams in high school too.

"It helps a lot because special teams… it's a little bit different in the open field because on special teams you're one on one with them and open field, you know, there's the entire team, there's all these blockers so you've got to dodge them. It helps a little bit though."

L.A.'s work ethic and loyalty have won over his coaches and teammates, who have confidence that he will make big contributions in his new position.

Safeties coach Carlos Mainord sung Reed's praises in a recent interview. "[L.A.'s transition from receiver to safety] has been good. He's done well. And of course everybody's got to realize it's the first time that he's ever been back there, so it's not a situation where he's just moves in and learns the thing in one day. So it's going to take him all spring and possibly part of the fall before he learns completely what all that he does back there. But I'll tell you, he's picking up real well and I'm not disappointed in his play at all."

Free safety Darcell McBath also feels that he'll be successful as a defender.

"L.A. could probably play any position on the field; I mean he's a great athlete. He's picking it up really quickly and I think by the end of the spring he'll be ready.

"He's just such a smart player and such a smart guy, there's no replacement for energy and hustle on the football field."

That energy and hustle has set Reed apart so far this spring, and with a little more coaching and position knowledge, he'll remind the Red Raider faithful just why they should "look out" for him.


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