Friday, August 12, 2011

RED-SHIRT FRESHMAN VERLON REED TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITY

Verlon Reed
TBT/Darla Dunkle
COLUMBUS — Opportunity is knocking ... and Verlon Reed is answering.

With Ohio State losing team MVP Dane Sanzenbacher to graduation — and DeVier Posey for the first five games of the regular season — the Buckeyes receiving unit has a couple openings at the top of its depth chart and the red-shirt freshman from Marion-Franklin (Columbus) is definitely stating his case to be one of them.

During the opening of fall camp this week, Reed has been running with the first-team offense and has displayed great athleticism and game-changing abilities each day. He has been consistent catching the football and has also exhibited a work ethic that's been second to none.

The 6-foot, 190-pound athlete from Columbus wasn't the most heavily recruited player coming out of high school, but that certainly hasn't prevented new wide receivers coach Stan Drayton from taking notice.

In fact, the former University of Florida assistant was gushing over Reed following practice on Thursday.

"(Reed) is a natural athlete, a physical receiver," Drayton said. "He looks like he's not running fast but the next thing you know he's a 4.3 forty that's on you in a hurry. I love the way he catches the ball in traffic and he doesn't say 'boo.' You can coach him hard and he eats it up. He loves the game."

One of the reasons Reed kind of flew in under the radar coming out of Marion-Franklin was that many scouts didn't know how to label him. Was he a running back? Was he a receiver? Was he a defensive back? A returner? A quarterback? He was a player who could do it all, but didn't have a position — something that doesn't bode well in the recruiting world. How else can we rank him?

He played mostly quarterback in high school, but in the Big 33 Game in 2010 — where he was named the game's Most Valuable Player — Reed showed that he could be a big-play athlete when he had the ball in his hands, totaling 115 yards of offense, including a touchdown run of 74 in the win.

The Buckeyes coaching staff — who admitted when Reed signed that they didn't know where to play him — decided to utilize his skills as a receiver and sat him last year so that he could develop his abilities as a pass catcher and learn the position. Drayton said Reed is "a natural."

"He understands how the defense plays, you can tell he's been back there reading coverages (as a quarterback)," Drayton said. "He was well coached in high school. He's going to bring some knowledge and some natural ability to that position."

Drayton said Reed's football IQ is impressive and his ability to learn is "amazing," something he attributes to his days as a signal caller.

"With him playing quarterback in high school, the way he picks up things. He picks up on things quickly and it's amazing how he fast he transfers them onto the football field," Drayton said.

"I expect some special things from Verlon."