By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia (CBS)—His shirt was dark and damp from all of the sweat, and water was dripping from his nose and chin as if his head was under a running faucet. Still, John Reid couldn’t get enough of everything this side of torture those weeknights of personal training he was willing to endure.
St. Joseph’s Prep coach Gabe Infante wasn’t about to let up, either. He wanted to challenge the 5-10, 172-pound defensive back/running back like he had never been tested before. But each new regimen Infante sprung on him, Reid readily accepted.
Reid embraced the work.
Maybe it explains why the Prep’s John Reid is among the nation’s most prominent sophomores with scholarship offers already from Boston College, Rutgers, Maryland, Colorado and Central Florida. Except that list to grow, and grow, and grow as Reid matures.
Thrown right into the boiling crucible of the Philadelphia Catholic League’s Class AAAA Division last year, going up against La Salle and Roman Catholic, and a schedule that featured powerhouses like Archbishop Wood and North Penn, Reid tied for the team lead in interceptions last year with four, and scored three touchdowns.
In Prep’s 42-20 regular-season victory over Roman Catholic, Reid put the clamps on one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the state, shutting out Notre Dame-bound Will Fuller without a reception (and Prep’s showdown with Roman on Sept. 29th marks another great one-on-one between two of the country’s best).
Infante, however, had a good idea of Reid’s character even before he stepped foot on the field his freshman year at Prep. The previous spring, three days a week right after track practice, Reid’s father would drive him to Prep as an eighth grader (registered to attend to Prep) to work out with Infante.
“I killed him, I mean I totally killed him and John kept coming back never missing a night,” Infante said. “John really is a once-in-a-lifetime player, and it’s not just ability, because the ability is incredibility. It’s his combined work ethic, character and ability, which is an incredible combination. It’s fair to say John is the perfect athlete to coach.
“He’s as dedicated as a kid you’ll find in the weight room. When I spoke to him about playing varsity football in eighth grade, I told him he had to commit himself to playing at that high level. He has—and succeeded.”
Reid’s rise came after eighth grade at Boston College’s camp. In fact, Reid opted to bypass his middle school graduation ceremony to attend the camp. He impressed the BC coaches so much that they asked Infante if it would be okay to move Reid up from his grade-school age group with the high school varsity players who were already offered.
By the time the camp was finished, Reid was one of the demonstration players being used to show how drills should be done and asked to participate in the showcase portion of the camp.
Right after the camp concluded, BC offered him a scholarship. The following week at Rutgers, Reid did the same thing, raising the eyes of the Scarlet Knights coaching crew to make an offer, too. Colorado defensive coordinator Greg Brown is in love with him, as are coaches from Temple, Florida and don’t be surprised if Southeastern Conference schools begin poking around before long.
Reid runs a sub-4.5-second 40 and is bench pressing 260 pounds and able to hit 225-pound hanging cleans for multiple reps, all the while maintaining a near 3.0 GPA at the academically demanding Prep.
“I like being pushed,” said Reid, whose family lives in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. “It’s why I loved working out with Coach Infante when I was in eighth grade. Three times a week, right after track practice, my father would drive me over. It was a long day, but it didn’t bother me too much.
“I enjoyed it, I still enjoy it. I had to help Coach Infante break in our new weight room. Plus, I don’t want anyone taking anything easy on me. I know it makes me better and it helps me keep pushing forward even when I’m really tired. My goal is to be the best in the country. I think that’s where the drive comes from; I don’t enjoy being second place.”
It goes back to pick-up basketball games where Reid would battle with his father and his uncles. Always the youngest and smallest on the court, he’d get knocked around and bulled over. He had no other recourse than to pick himself and keep playing.
“That’s what I had to do; my father and his brothers, they were all hard-nosed, and maybe sometimes they took it a little easy on me, but I was expected to play like they played,” Reid said. “I got no breaks. I got knocked down, no one was helping me up. I had to prove myself. I didn’t want to be the person picked last.”
Reid won’t have that problem this year, nor the remainder of his high school career. He’ll be the focus of every team Prep plays. Infante threw Reid into the fire as a freshman last year, and he became a fire eater—never backing down from manning up against threats like Fuller, who worked out with Reid this summer.
Reid said he won’t make a college commitment until after his senior year of playing. Until then, he’ll immerse himself in playing video games, working out, and possibly running track for Prep next spring. He’ll continue to receive a deluge of mail from every major school in the country, although always with the attitude of getting better.
“John is a unique person; one in a million, a true credit to his parents,” Infante said. “He’s very coachable and responds well to hard coaching. The beauty of John is that he’s humble and ambitious. He’s the ultimate competitor. He wants to find out how good he can be.”
And is ever willing to push the endurance envelope that much further.
“I know I need to perform, so I don’t pay attention to what people say about me and put on me as a player,” Reid said. “I like the attention, I just can’t let it get to my head and change me. My focus is our team this year, and it’s going to be amazing. We could be a good team if we play the way we’re supposed to play.”
One thing is for certain, Reid will certainly be worth watching. A growing pile of college coaches already are.