March 24, 2011
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
This story has a familiar ring to it. A tall, skinny, late bloomer has dreams of playing college ball and eventually pro ball, but not too many colleges are paying him notice.
Well, except New Mexico.
So, he throws on the Lobo uniform throws on a few pounds and becomes an NFL prospect.
The name you threw on this Lobo story a few years back was "Brian Urlacher." This standout NFL linebacker for the Chicago Bears is still adding chapters to his story.
The story is being written again at the University of New Mexico. This time the name on the cast list is "Lucas Reed."
Will Reed's career at UNM be as storied as Urlacher's? Probably not. Urlacher was freakishly good and played a position that by nature has more impact on the game.
Will Reed, a tight end, make it to the NFL level? That might be up to him and the work effort he tosses out over the next two seasons - and maybe the protein shakes he tosses down, too. But there is no reason not to expect Reed to someday be playing the game on Sunday.
He had the tools.
Already, the 6-foot-6 junior-to-be's resume is more than Urlacher-ish. Urlacher spent a lot of time on the UNM bench his first two seasons. Lucas was a freshman All-American for CollegeFootballNews.com. In his sophomore season of 2010, he was First Team All-Mountain West.
Take that, Brian.
Like Urlacher, Reed's best seasons at UNM might come in his junior and senior years. Reed is beginning to put on his man shape, leaving behind the boyish frame that followed him from Tucson's Sabino High. That was the same battle Urlacher fought coming out of Lovington (N.M.) high as a lightly-recruited sapling.
Lightly-recruited would be an exaggeration for Reed. In fact, Reed had to put together his own highlight reel and ship it out. One team took notice: New Mexico.
"I was a very late bloomer," said Reed. "And I didn't have a junior season at varsity. My junior year I was 6-2 and maybe 150 pounds and on JV. I was skinny with no strength and I didn't catch the ball very well. I didn't' have much potential."
One thing Reed had was the "wants" to get better. He was one of the few juniors delegated to the JV team, but hung around to work out with the varsity. He got better."
"On JV, I was the guy who was supposed to bring in the play," said Reed. "I would get to the huddle and forget what was called. I would tell the guys, `Hey, I remember it. Give me a second.'"
At the JV level, Reed was a defensive end, but the Sabino High coaching staff saw his potential as a receiver - if he could just learn to catch the ball. Reed was told to catch 3,000 passes over the summer.
He found a buddy to throw him the ball and also played in a passing league. "My first year, I was terrible," he said. Reed said probably his most memorable game was one in which two passes bounced out of his hands and into the hands of a "traitor player," who had transferred out of Sabino High.
"Interceptions are a big deal in passing league," said Reed.
Obviously, Reed didn't give up. He worked hard, had a lot of balls thrown his way, and pretty soon most of them were sticking to his hands. A receiver was born. He caught 41 passes as a senior for 761 yards and seven TDs. There was enough good work to put together a highlight film that found its way into the New Mexico film room. Reed became a Lobo.
In 2010, Reed caught 33 passes for 459 yards and five TDS. He led UNM in receiving TDs, average per catch (13.9 yards) and yards per game (41.7).
Reed said his attraction to football mainly came from his big brother's interest in football. Brooks Reed was not a late bloomer. He was thick, strong and good from an early age. He just finished his collegiate career at Arizona, and if the NFL players and owners can solve their money issues, he should be a high-round draft pick.
He also was, and is, Lucas' idol.
"I did whatever Brooks did," said Reed. "If he had concentrated on some other sport, that's probably what I'd be doing. If he got a Razor scooter. I got a Razor scooter. If he got a certain kind of shorts, I'd get the same kind.
"One of my dreams is to play against him or with him in the NFL."
"If you are good at blocking, you'll like it," he said. "If not, you are in trouble. If you are no good at blocking and you have to go out there and block a guy who is 260, you aren't going to like it. I think if I gain some weight, I'll feel a lot better about it."
Reed came to UNM weighing about 210, is close to 230 now, and hopes to be 250 when he leaves UNM. It might be smart if Reed moves in with his brother this summer.
"He was my nanny for two weeks once over Christmas break," said Lucas. "He made every meal. I couldn't believe how much food we ate in a day. He'd come back to make lunch and I was still full. But he put about 20 pounds on me. I need to get back on that diet, but I'm not sure I can afford it."
Urlacher's feel-good story was one of humble beginnings to NFL stardom. Reed is working on a similar story and has a good start.
"I feel good and I feel fortunate in being able to accomplish what I've accomplished considering what I came from," he said. "I've worked hard to get here, but my dad and my brother worked to keep me on course.
"I feel fortunate to have this opportunity to play football and have it pay for my education. I never thought this would happen to me."