Eric Reid’s résumé is nearly complete, except for one major thing: His high school teammate has a national title ... and he doesn’t
Eric Reid’s ultimate prize was sitting right in front of him. The championship ring he works so hard for, day in and day out, was literally at his fingertips.
Except it was adorned with a crimson letter “A” and the name “Eddie Lacy” engraved on one side, opposite of the inscribed 21-0 score that gave the Alabama running back the ring in the first place.
During the offseason, with the hurt of the national title loss still lingering in Reid’s mind, he ran into his former teammate at Dutchtown High, their old stomping ground.
Lacy got a chance to flash his jewelry.
“He knows he got that one out of us, but he did show off his ring a little bit, too,” Reid said. “He didn’t rub it in. He was humble about it.”
Ask either party, and it becomes clear no hard feelings exist between the two. On the other hand, Reid isn’t shy about discussing the revenge factor, which will undoubtedly be present when LSU and Alabama clash again Saturday.
“We’re friends off the field,” Reid said. “But on the field, it’s something different.”
Reid will get another stab at shutting down Lacy and the Tide — something most teams have struggled with this season, but something Reid is looking forward to. For multiple reasons.
“I don’t usually talk trash on the field, but I always do to him,” Reid said. “We joke back and forth, so it’ll be fun playing guys that you grew up with. It’ll be nice to finally see him on the field again. It’s rare that you get to see a guy you went to high school with on the field, so I’m sure we’re both going to enjoy it.”
Whether it’s the extra motivation or not, Reid has had done his fair share in LSU’s recent games against Alabama. He led the team with 11 tackles in the championship game and chalked up six tackles against the Tide as a freshman in LSU’s 24-21 win at home in 2010.
Of course, the most iconic play of Reid’s career — and possibly LSU’s 2011 season — came in the fourth quarter of the Tigers’ 9-6 win in Tuscaloosa, Ala., when the sophomore safety stole an interception from the hands of Alabama tight end Michael Williams at the goal line. It’s safe to call that play LSU’s top highlight of the game, but Reid was quick to re-focus the attention on Saturday’s game. On the task at hand.
“It’s definitely a nice memory, but that play has nothing to do with this game coming up,” Reid said. “It’s a completely different game, and that play is not going to happen again.”
Reid, now 20, has already earned All-Southeastern Conference and All-America honors while developing into the prototypical safety prospect that NFL draft analysts continue to move up their big boards.
But it’s no surprise Reid has come this far and garnered this much success in less than three years — at least not to his high school coach, Benny Saia.
“That doesn’t surprise me at all,” Saia said. “Eric was probably one of the most focused kids that I’ve been around. He came in as a freshman, and he was a little skinny kid. He continued to work and mature and grow.
“He did everything that he could to put himself in the position he’s in, from watching his diet to the way that he worked out. He had a goal, and everything that he did was to achieve those goals.”
It’s a mentality that was instilled in him from birth, growing up in a household that strived for excellence. Football came before television, but homework came before anything else.
The winning ways were ingrained in his system beginning with his father, Eric Reid Sr., who earned his own national title at LSU in the 110-meter hurdles in 1987. The elder Reid also set a school record that lasted for 23 years and has been enshrined in the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Reid had the option to play anywhere in country when he came out of high school as a four-star recruit and a top-five safety prospect. He added a 4.46 grade-point average to his résumé, finishing in the top 10 in his graduating class.
“He was the total package,” Saia said. “He was not only an outstanding athlete, but he was also an outstanding person — probably as mature as any high school player I’ve ever been around, academically, athletically, socially. He was a dream to have.”
Reid has carried that same dedication into his college career. He’s on track to graduate early with a marketing degree in December.
He saw action in every game his freshman season, and it took him less than 10 games to work his way into a starting role at LSU. Two years later, Reid is not only the heart of the Tigers defense, but arguably its most important player.
“I look at him as the leader of our defense. No doubt,” fellow safety Craig Loston said. “Out of all of us who have been back there, he’s played the most. He’s having a great season, and he makes plays and that’s what we look forward to him doing ... continue to make plays and lead our defense.”
Reid has worked for and earned everything he’s achieved. But he’s still as humble as they come.
“I was definitely blessed. I had a lot of people in my corner that wanted to see me do well,” Reid said. “I had a lot of help to get where I am today, and I’m very thankful for that. It took a lot hard work, and it’s not over yet.”