Intelligence Carries Eric Reid to Greatness
Legendary gridiron coach Knute Rockne once described football as "a game played with arms, legs and shoulders, but mostly from the neck up." With this mindset, Rockne would have certainly loved coaching LSU junior free safety Eric Reid.
Over the past two seasons, Reid has been a vital part of two stout defensive units. In his first season with the Tigers, he played in 13 games. Reid's breakout performance came in the Cotton Bowl during his freshmen year, when he recorded seven tackles along with an interception in the Tigers' 41-24 victory over Texas A&M.
In the following 2011 season, the Tiger defense allowed 158 points in 14 games, marking the lowest amount of points scored against an LSU defensive unit since 2003. Reid led the Tigers in tackles last season with 76, but says he does not focus on statistics.
"It's not a concern of mine to try to lead the team in tackles," Reid said. "It just worked out that way. I just try to do the best I can to help the team, and make sure I take care of my assignments."
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Reid also added two interceptions to the stat column last season, one of which Tiger fans will never forget. With the Crimson Tide driving toward a potential go-ahead touchdown on November 5 in Tuscaloosa, Reid stripped Alabama wide receiver Marquis Maze's pass away from tight end Michael Williams in midair.
"They were in the Wildcat formation," Reid said. "(Maze) played quarterback in high school so we knew there was a chance he would throw the ball. I knew just to look for an open guy. There was somebody open. I got to him, and I was lucky enough to get the ball."
Reid's interception kept the Crimson Tide out of the end zone and helped propel the Tigers to a thrilling 9-6 overtime victory.
Reid has quickly become known as one of the top safeties in college football. ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit selected Reid's interception as the 2011 Defensive Play of the Year. Reid was also named to both All-American and All-SEC Second-Teams in 2011.
In addition to his on-the-field accolades, Reid has been successful in the classroom throughout his collegiate career. He currently carries a 3.2 grade point average in LSU's E.J. Ourso College of Business, and he is majoring in business administration.
"I would like to go to the (National Football) League one day if God puts me in that position," Reid said. "But when football is over I want to own my own business."
For Reid, it's not always easy to balance his schoolwork with football. However, he has always remembered to keep his priorities in order.
"It's hard," said Reid. "You just have to prepare yourself mentally, and you have to be disciplined. You're tired when you get home from practice, but you have to make sure you get your homework done."
Last season, Reid was also named to the 2011 Academic All-SEC team. A product of Geismar, La., Reid graduated from Dutchtown High School with a 4.7 grade point average. He says his parents instilled his hard work ethic in school.
"My parents always made sure my homework was done before I did anything else," Reid said. "That mentality just carried over to college."
Reid's father, Eric Reid Sr., also sported the Purple and Gold during his collegiate years as a three-time LSU All-American hurdler from 1984-87. Reid Sr. is a member of the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame and still holds the school record for the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.50 seconds.
"We used to race when I was younger," Reid said. "He was still able to beat me when I was in my teenage years, but not too much anymore. I think it's the other way around. I can pick on him now so it's fun."
Like Rockne, LSU coach Les Miles believes a player's intelligence has a major impact on the football field. Miles believes Reid offers a unique skill set that other players cannot provide.
"I think Eric Reid is everything that's advertised," Miles said. "Smart players always key it quicker and get there faster. He knows the play really before it gets off and makes a great break on the ball. He's always around the football."
Reid's future continues to look promising. He was named to the 2012 Lott Trophy Watch List, which recognizes excellence both on and off the field. With a plethora of talent surrounding him on the defensive side of the football, he is in a great position to have another remarkable season.
"He is a quality person, a hard worker and a great leader," Miles said. "He is going to have a great fall."
This season, Reid will oversee the defensive backfield at the free safety position, while junior Craig Loston takes over at strong safety. The high level of experience in the secondary should benefit the Tigers in 2012.
After an arduous preseason camp, Reid and his teammates are eager to take the field against the North Texas Mean Green. Tiger fans are just as excited to see their team under the lights of Tiger Stadium. Reid has one message for the fans of Death Valley.
"Just make Tiger Stadium rocking like it is every year," Reid said. "We have the best fans in the country. We love them."