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Google surveys the recruits: Trovon Reed

In which a recruit’s name is plugged into Google and the bits of information that trickle out–guru ratings, newspaper profiles, YouTube highlights, all that stuff–are synthesized in the hopes of getting a clearer picture of the player we’ll see at Auburn next fall. Previously: Jessel Curry, Craig Sanders, Roszell Gayden, Brandon Mosley, Demetruce McNeal, Jake Holland, Shaun Kitchens, Cody Parkey, Cameron Newton, Joel Bonomolo, LaDarius Owens, Antonio Goodwin, Kenneth Carter, Ryan White, and Dakota Mosley.

I’ll be honest: it took me a long time to believe with Trovon. Here was the highest-profile, highest-regarded recruit in Louisiana–Louisiana, one of the most talent-rich states in the country–coming out a high school with as thick a pipeline to one particular in-state school as you’re going to find. (For obvious reasons, in retrospect.) Even as the reports that Auburn led for Trovon piled up and piled up again, was there really any way Reed wasn’t going to end up at LSU in the end? No, there was no way Reed wasn’t going to end up at LSU at the end. Even after he’d committed, even after we’d been assured time and again he wasn’t going anywhere else, until his signature came in over the Auburn fax machine late in the Signing Day afternoon, it still seemed like this was one recruiting bridge too far, one coup Chizik and Co. couldn’t quite pull off. You’re going to yank the best recruit in Louisiana away from LSU? Really?

Really. Chizik and Co. might have (and might not have) recruited better players, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that landing Trovon remains their greatest achievement on the recruiting trail to-date. Of course, as ridiculously homeristic as it sounds, I think it’s a hell of an achievement for Reed, too, to choose an Auburn program he clearly loved in the face of unrelenting pressure to go elsewhere. Good times, all around.

BASICS: Hit us, AUfficial Signing Day bio sheet:

WR, 6-0, 173
Thibodaux, LA (Thibodaux HS)

HIGH SCHOOL: Named to the PrepStar Dream Team as the No. 26-ranked player in the nation … Ranked No. 41 overall and the No. 5 wide receiver in the SuperPrep Elite 50 … Also named an All-American and the top player in Louisiana by SuperPrep … No. 2-rated defensive back and No. 80-ranked player by Tom Lemming on Maxpreps.com … Was a participant in the 2010 Army All-American Bowl … Played in the 2009 Hawaii/Polynesia-Mainland Bowl … No. 9 on the Mobile Press Register’s Super Southeast 120…Member of the Orlando Sentinel’s 2009 All-Southern football team … As a senior, rushed for 703 yards and nine touchdowns and passed for 826 yards and six scores despite missing five games due to injury … As a junior, rushed for 746 yards and 10 touchdowns on 91 attempts, completed 28-of-52 passes for 10 TDs and caught 19 passes for 344 yards and a touchdown.

Auburn has made a point under Chizik of finding as many athletes “stuck” at quarterback as they can, and Reed is pretty clearly the pick of the lot: 1,529 total yards and 15 TDs in limited time? 8.2 yards-per-carry and a 54 percent completion percentage as a junior? Everyone unanimous on his potential at wide receiver (as we’ll see) despite his taking snaps for nearly his entire high school career? This is a capital-A Athlete.

RECRUITNIK HOO-HA: If not for Michael Dyer, Reed would have boasted the highest consensus guru rankings for an Auburn signee since Jason Campbell or Cadillac. (I think.) Rivals: four stars, a 6.0 grade (i.e. one notch below a fifth star), No. 46 on the Rivals100, the No. 4 athlete, the No. 1 player in Louisiana. Scout: five stars, the No. 7 WR, this evaluation:

Reed played QB at Thibodaux but will play WR and could even get a look at CB if the team needs him there. He is very elusive and has big-play potential when he has the ball in his hands. Getting his blocking and route running down will be something that Reed will need to work on but his speed and quickness should allow him to play early.

At ESPN: No. 39 in the ESPN150, the No. 6 athlete, four stars and another just-shy-of-five grade of 83. They write:

Reed is one of the most explosive and sudden prospects this class has to offer. He plays as a wing/slot in a run-oriented option scheme where he is asked to carry the ball far more than he receives it, but his open-field run skills are elite. He has good size and a lean build that will continue to bulk up and mature … Reed gets from zero to 60 in a hurry and can wiggle and cut with the best of them. Possesses tremendous vision and lateral agility. His top-end speed is outstanding and he is a home run threat every time he catches the football … His feet, hips and ability to accelerate could make for a great corner prospect, but much like Andre Debose in the 2009 class, it is likely he will end up on offense where you can get the ball in his hands on a consistent basis … He is going to have to develop as a true wide receiver in terms of route running techniques and experience, but the learning curve won’t take long. From a pure talent standpoint, Reed could contribute right away and he could do so at more than one position. Outstanding prospect.

Yeah, that doesn’t sound so bad. Neither does Reed’s predictably outstanding offer sheet: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida St., Tennessee, a bunch more. Reed might not have been awarded a fifth star or quite have the overwhelming acclaim of Dyer, but honestly, that’s hair-splitting when you’re talking about that collection of offers and the raves from all three services. Where the recruitniks are concerned, Reed is in the absolute uppermost tier of potential prospects.

LINKS OF POTENTIAL INTEREST: Not sure why it’s free, but thanks, Rivals (even if it is just one game’s worth of highlights):

If that one has a little too much of Reed passing, this one could do without the training-reel stuff at the beginning, but it’s a lot more exciting:

Even more here, this time from Reed’s sophomore year. As you can see: Reed is slick, and fast. Athlon agrees in their write-up of their “Consensus #35” in the class of 2010:

To say that Reed is a massive part of his team’s offense is a bit of an understatement. He has lined up at tailback, wing back, quarterback and wide receiver over the past two seasons — and that is just on offense. He also doubles as one of the team’s best defensive backs too.

He’ll find his hands on the ball in college, however. He is just too electric. He has tremendous speed, quickness and agility and will make defenders look foolish in the open field. Just in case his speed is still a question, Reed also runs the 100, 200, 4×100 and 4×200 for his high school track squad …

Although he is same size and build as Percy Harvin, it is too early to begin comparing. The similarities and potential, however, are there. Especially when he takes an end-around handoff, cuts up field and glides past the defense.

Mmmmm, Harvin comparison.

If you only read one of the links from this post, make it this story from the Advocate on Reed, his relationship with his mother, her lost battle with stomach cancer, his recruitment, everything. A sample:

“He sees every defender on the field when he’s in traffic,” Lorio said. “I don’t know how he does it. You could swear sometimes he sees the ones behind him, too.”

Reed became a household name in recruiting circles by the end of his junior season …

“He’s as good as any player I’ve seen with the ball in his hands,” said West Monroe coach Don Shows, whose Rebels beat THS in the quarterfinals.

Reed’s recruitment came down to three schools: Auburn, Oregon and LSU.

Oregon was too far from home. LSU may have been too close.

Despite pressure from the LSU-mad Thibodaux community, Reed grabbed the Auburn hat on his late mother’s birthday.

“I really don’t want to be around this life anymore,” Reed said. “I want to move on. I feel like this is the first move of many I’m going to make. I can’t stay home forever. I’ve got to leave, get out on my own and see something new. I’ve got to grow up.”

Strong words. But his coach, Dennis Lorio, makes it clear in the article that strong words or no, he wanted Reed at LSU, and he hadn’t changed his tune once Signing Day week rolled around:

Unlike many of his peers, Reed has requested no signing ceremony and is expected to sign privately at the Lafourche Parish school on Wednesday morning, Lorio said.

“I kind of thought it was over a few days ago,” Lorio said. “But there are still some discussions going on. He hasn’t said anything publicly, but he’s thinking. Auburn did a good job of getting close to him when his mom passed away last May. He’s still committed to Auburn to my knowledge, but there are still some discussions about LSU going on. That’s a fact. We’ll know (Wednesday).”

That little nugget helped draw about as angry a response from Phillip Marshall as you’re going to find:

You have to hand it to wide receiver Trovon Reed. Despite intense pressure from people who wanted him to do what made them feel good, he did what he wanted. It would have been easy to give in and play close to home at LSU, but Reed wanted to play at Auburn. And that’s what he’ll do. …

The intimation by Thibodaux coach Dennis Lorio that Auburn coaches used Reed’s mother’s death to their advantage was disgusting, even more disgusting than his relentless efforts to convince his star player he didn’t really want what he wanted.

So how close did Lorio come to succeeding? Not close, if you ask Gene Chizik:

“When you talk about solid guys through the whole process, and a guy being under pressure, he’s been a rock through this whole campaign,” Chizik said. “As solid as he was, it would have shocked me if he had gone in another direction.

“There were a lot of guys who were that solid and never wavered.”

That sentiment was indirectly echoed by recruitnik Mark Murphy here. It wasn’t that much of surprise given his comments at his commitment ceremony:

“It’s hard, but you have to do what you want to do,” Reed said. “People that are mad at me are just diehard LSU fans. What about the people that come from out of town to come to LSU? That’s how I feel about the whole thing.”

Reed said he felt something special about Auburn from the first time he visited last spring. LSU turned his head. He gave serious consideration to Oregon after an official visit. But, in the end, he did what he’d planned to do for months.

“My heart was at Auburn,” Reed said.

Reed said it was the family feeling he got at Auburn — from wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor, from recruiting coach Curtis Luper, from head coach Gene Chizik, from the players, from the fans.

“They treat me like family,” Reed said. “When I walked into Coach Trooper’s office, he had ‘Trooper’s family.’ It was his family and all his receivers. They do everything at his house. They have keys to his house. That’s like family. That’s like me going to my sister’s house.”

Reed said making his announcement on his mother’s birthday was at once difficult and wonderful.

“It was too special. I knew it was going to be a good day. I went to bed about 8, woke up at 12 and said a big prayer for my mom on her birthday. I really couldn’t go back to sleep, like she was holding me up. I was up all night and I’m still not tired.”

Reed’s senior season and performance at the Army All-American game did nothing to hurt his standing with the gurus. Or St. Paul defensive end Houston Bates after his team was beaten 27-17 by Thibodaux:

“He is the best. He’s invincible almost, ” said LSU-bound St. Paul’s defensive end Houston Bates. “I’ve never seen anybody like him, and I probably won’t see anybody like him” …

In the second quarter Bates seemingly had him trapped in the backfield, but Reed spun away and ran for a 7-yard touchdown that gave Thibodaux (8-4) a 13-3 lead.

“God gave me a gift he doesn’t give everyone, ” Reed said. “Half of the time, I don’t really see them. I just feel them and I get away.”

Reed’s rushing total was modest — 57 yards on 11 carries. But he repeatedly changed directions.

“He’s like a ghost, ” Bates said. “You can’t get him.”

But as you know if you read the earlier Advocate piece, Reed didn’t even have to have the ball in his hands to impress at the Army game:

In the secondary Trovon Reed (Thibodaux, La./Thibodaux), who pulled double duty and is projected as a wide receiver in college, played a strong game at cornerback. He did well in man coverage showing his speed and athleticism and using his height.

That performance has led a minority of Auburn fans to hope Reed winds up at corner on the Plains, and there’s some logic behind that thinking–as difficult to come by as offensive gamebreakers of Reed’s talents are, true lockdown corners might be even rarer, particularly for a program that doesn’t seem to have any trouble recruiting the offensive skill positions these days. It’s easy to imagine Reed–with his proto-corner size, amazing change-of-direction skills, and legitimate speed–becoming an NFL-quality cornerback.

But we haven’t seen any indication from Chizik and Co. they’d even consider it, and as long as Dr. Gustav is in charge, this is an offense-first football team that needs to have the best possible offense. Giving Malzahn one more toy to play with, a toy with Reed’s kinds of abilities, still seems like the best use of resources and is doubtless the call Reed would like the coaches to make.

WHAT CONCLUSIONS WE CAN DRAW, IF ANY: I’ve looked and looked for red flags. There aren’t any. His ability to withstand the pressure-cooker of his commitment at Thibodaux and the endorsement from Chizik seems to vouch for his off-field character. The avalanche of praise from all observers–all observers, be they gurus, opposing coaches, college coaches (via offer), fans, whoever–vouches for his on-field talent. Even if he’s not perfect at one position, he’s versatile enough that he’ll probably be perfect at another. If he stays healthy, its as hard to see him missing as with any recruit I’ve followed at Auburn.

So, the projection? He contributes this year at both wideout and in the return game–it won’t be surprising at all for him to win the punt return job his first week on campus–and starts as a sophomore with All-SEC consideration his final two seasons. Yeah, I think he’s that good.

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