This spring appears to have been an awakening for Andre the Giant. He has slimmed down to where he's carrying about 310 pounds on his 6-6 frame, and all of his strength numbers are well up from last year. "He has reshaped his body and is really in good shape now. I'm excited about what he's doing and I hope he continues to do it," said Neuheisel of the man that is currently listed as the starter at strong tackle.
Reeves was speaking quietly after practice yesterday after being kicked in the jaw during a pile-up, but his play has made loud noises so far this spring.
"I got kicked during a drill, I guess that happens," said Reeves after practice in a very hushed voice. "It's not a big deal, really."
Other than a very sore jaw, everything else is falling into place nicely for Reeves. "It's going pretty good. As always, I'm just trying to have fun and trying to earn my spot so I can stay here and get that free education," he said with a grin.
"I'm just having a little fun playing ball, and maybe get paid to do it in the future. We'll see what happens."
Now that he has begun to tap into his potential and the big man from Tacoma appears more motivated than ever, he now needs to make sure that his academics stay in order. That has been a constant battle for him since signing a letter of intent for Washington.
"They (coaches) have been worried about my academics and that's kept me off the field. I probably would've had more playing time but they weren't sure I would make it in school. This quarter has been my best since I've been here. I'm trying to maintain a good GPA and make sure that I earn enough credits to graduate," said Reeves.
All of the other tools are there. He runs incredibly well, clocking 40 yards in right around 5 seconds, and he's learning the schemes from offensive line coach Brent Myers.
Strangely, Reeves attributes his metamorphosis not to any off-season program in particular, but rather an extracurricular activity.
"It was mostly playing basketball. I went home and didn't lift weights or anything, I just ran a lot and played a lot of basketball. I didn't really follow an off-season program, but I was out every day playing hoops, so I wasn't sitting around eating or drinking, or whatever," said Reeves.
"That really helped a lot. My body is in better condition now, and that's why I'm probably stronger. It's coming a little easier now."
For all of those hours on the hardwood, Reeves' payoff is more than just being in better shape. He currently finds himself lining up with the first team offensive line. It is looking to be an impressive line with WT Khalif Barnes (6-6 300 soph), OG Nick Newton (6-5 310 jr), C Todd Bachert (6-3 310 jr), OG Elliott Zajac (6-4 315 sr), and Reeves (6-6 310 soph).
"I think we work really well together. We're going to do all kinds of great things. We'll run, we'll pass, and we'll move the ball. This is a good line," said Reeves, with emphasis on the "good" part.
Reeves faces a stiff challenge every day from redshirt freshman Robin Meadow, a 6-6 300-pounder from the Bay Area who is an outstanding talent at tackle. Both figure to play this fall.
If Andre can stay on top of his schoolwork, the sky is the limit to what he can accomplish.