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By LARRY VAUGHT
Because his graduation was not until early June, Indianapolis defensive back Jonathan Reed did not report to Kentucky as early as some other incoming freshman football players. However, he got to campus Sunday and had been counting days until he could join his teammates in Lexington.
“I actually see it as somewhat of an advantage for me to get a longer break and not be there. I did a lot of conditioning and working on my own, but I think the mental break was probably good for me,” said the 5-9, 185-pound Reed before he left for Kentucky. “With the position I play, I think the physical break might be good, too. In a skilled position like mine, you run non-stop and don’t get many breaks. This break helps my body out and lets my muscles relax. I wouldn’t want too much of a break, but two weeks might turn out to be really good for me.”
That doesn’t mean Reed, who has been timed in 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, did not communicate with other UK players the last few weeks.
“I have been talking to all of them. We have really grown close together really fast. We have a good chemistry. We have been talking since we all signed,” Reed said.
He was regarded as one of the top 10 prospects in Indiana and 44th best cornerback in the nation by one recruiting service. He helped Pike High School reach the state playoffs each season.
Reed will be roommates with Highlands quarterback Patrick Towles at UK. He’s as excited as UK fans to see what Towles will do on the field after reading and hearing so much about him.
“I know he is a big guy and a good guy,” Reed said. “He is Mr. Kentucky (Football). I want to see that talent and see what he looks like on the field. But there are going to be a lot of quiet nights in our room when I catch one of his interceptions. But man, he is my boy. I am just glad we have got him on my team. I would rather practice with him and have him jam my finger (with a pass) than going against him in games and having him throw a deep ball over my head.”
Those sentiments have made Reed popular on Twitter with UK fans already — something he didn’t plan to change after he got to Lexington.
“I do pay attention to the fans. It’s a blessing to know so many people are looking up to me or even looking down as adults and wanting to follow me,” Reed said. “I am an affectionate guy. My parents did a good job raising me to be respectful. I speak my mind, but I know my place. Fans like somebody to speak about the team. I will do that. I see a lot in UK football or I would not have signed there. I am excited and think we can do something with a good offseason of work. I tell that to fans.”
He says former Pike athletes Dakotah Tyler and Marquis Teague both told him how passionate UK fans would be.
“But it is still always cool to talk or communicate with everybody who loves Kentucky football like I do,” he said. “Those are the people who spend hard earned money to go to games to see us play. I don’t see why I should be stuck up and not talk to them. I want to show them the same respect they show me. I appreciate them a lot, so I wan’t to talk with them.”
He’s already had more Kentucky talk in Indianapolis than before because of Teague’s role on UK’s national championship basketball season.
“It really did create a lot of excitement about Kentucky at our school,” Reed said. “He was the first one from our school to win a national championship. I want to do my best to go to the pros like he did. We have a lot of Kentucky fans at our school now because of him. At first it would be IU (Indiana), Notre Dame and Purdue. Now plenty of classes have big UK posters and signed stuff in the classrooms because of him. I hope to do the same.”
That could be a bit more difficult for Reed considering that UK is picked to finish either sixth or seventh in the seven-team SEC Eastern Division this year.
“Everybody pays attention to predictions. I don’t care if you say you don’t look at them, you do,” Reed said. “But what matters is how you take them. I see it as a challenge. I like the challenge and it makes you work harder to know you are the underdog. There’s nowhere go to but up.”