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Reed: Ring fitting end to college days


(Editor's note: In two years, LSU's Josh Reed went from being a little-used running back to becoming one of the nation's elite wide receivers. In 2001, he caught 94 passes for 1,740 yards and seven touchdowns. He helped lead the Tigers to an SEC title, then had 14 receptions for 239 yards and two touchdowns in LSU's Sugar Bowl victory against Illinois. Each week on, Reed will offer his thoughts leading up to draft day.)

Here in Baton Rouge, my teammates and I got a little surprise today: We got our SEC championship rings.

They didn't think they would be in this early, and they usually give them out during the spring game. But they had a team meeting and they got word to all the seniors and the other guys who are leaving to show up for a meeting at 4 p.m. to get our rings. It's huge; I'm going to wear it all the time.

As you probably know, I'm skipping my senior season. I had a 1,000-yard season my sophomore year. The pros crossed my mind, but I knew it would take more than one year, and I knew I had to come back and do better. But I didn't think I'd be able to have this kind of impact. I was real fortunate to be able to even have another 1,000-yard season. The numbers were better, but what made this season better than the last one was the fact that we got the championship and we won the BCS bowl.

I guess my coaches would have really loved for me to stay, but for them to tell me that it would be in the best of my interests to consider leaving, that just shows that I had that much respect. I don't think that they wanted to get rid of me, but they were straight with me.

I grew up in Rayne, La. — about 70 miles west of Baton Rouge — but I didn't grow up a Saints fan or an LSU fan. In fact, I didn't grow up rooting for anybody.

I just wanted to be at a big college. All the people in my area were being recruited by these big schools like Michigan and Florida. Mississippi State and Texas A&M recruited me, but I didn't want to go out of state. I just decided that maybe LSU is the best place for me — that was the place for running backs at the time.

I started out at LSU as a running back, but that didn't last. We had a better crop of running backs that came in, and they performed better than me, so they got to play.

Our quarterback back then, Josh Booty, told me I should try making the switch to receiver, because we were kind of short on receivers at that time. I guess he wasn't a bad evaluator. I'm pretty sure his brother Abram hates him for that now. [Editor's note: Abram Booty played wide receiver for three years at LSU before transferring to Div. I-AA Valdosta State before the 2001 season.]

I caught a lot of passes out of the backfield in high school, but they never had me line up out wide. When I made the switch, the most difficult skill for me to learn was route running. But the biggest mental adjustment I had to make was accepting the fact that I wasn't a running back any more.

I started feeling comfortable at receiver the next spring [2000]. I kept saying to myself, "I'm getting better and I'm learning. I really like it; this is where I should be." But I never said, "Hey, I'm pretty good." That's cocky.

Before I got here, we were winning. Then when I got here, the program began going down. We had a coaching change, then I had to change positions. I didn't know what to expect; I didn't know what was going down. But as a team, we just never got down and we kept moving ahead.

I'm about 26 hours from getting my degree in kinesiology, and I definitely intend to get it. But I'm probably going to wait until next spring to resume classes. Getting ready for the pros is the most important thing to me right now. Seeing as how I decided to leave early, I have to make sure that I do well.

-- As told to Bob Elliott

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