C. Reeder anxious for second act with Hens

Brothers Colby, left, and Troy Reeder celebrate after teaming up on a turnover in a 2018 game. Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell

NEWARK — Colby Reeder feels a little bit like a stranger.

Sure, at 23, he’s been a member of the Delaware football team for going on five seasons already.

Colby Reeder

But, after having back surgery in June 2019, the former Salesianum School standout hasn’t played in a game since 2018.

“I’m going to come in during the spring and I think there’s probably going to be 50 guys I really haven’t been on the field with,” said Reeder. “The last time I played football, I was an underclassmen … just trying to play my role and let them (the veterans) kind of take charge.

“Now, the next time I play, I’m probably one of the oldest guys on our team. So I think I’m in a whole different role.”

It’s clearly been a strange career for the highly-touted linebacker. He won’t play this fall after the Blue Hens and the CAA canceled their fall schedule.

But that doesn’t mean that Reeder is giving up on his college career.

Whether it’s this spring or not until the fall of 2021, Reeder just wants to get in a game again. In some ways, it will almost be like he’s starting a second career.

“I think I have to prove myself for these guys,” he said. “I haven’t played with them. I think it’s going to be almost like my freshman year when I came in. I had a chip on my shoulder to show the guys what I can do.

”I want to prove my worth to these guys because they haven’t seen me play. They’ve just seen me working out and in meetings.”

Back when he was playing, Reeder was pretty good. The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder, who redshirted as a true freshman in 2016, was named the CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2017.

Colby Reeder’s last game action came against JMU in the 2018 NCAA FCS Division I playoffs.

Altogether, he’s collected 100 total tackles and started in 22 games,

“He has the skills, the tools, to be a really dominant player,” Delaware coach Danny Rocco said about Reeder in ‘18. “He has the size, power, explosion and quickness to do a lot of different things.”

Reeder, though, was also in pain a lot of the time for his first couple seasons. He said the back injury was something that just gradually got worse over the years.

The one start he missed in his UD career was because of his back.

“It was nagging me most of the season,” Reeder said about his sophomore year. “Back pain is not fun. If you’re not having a good day, it’s not the best sport to play.”

At the same time, simply having surgery didn’t automatically clear up everything for Reeder. Like anyone recovering from major surgery, there are good days and bad days.

“Getting the surgery was pretty tough for me,” he said. “You get down on yourself. You’re like, ‘Oh, I remember before surgery, I was doing this number (lifting weights). Right now, I’m way under that.’

“I’m progressing back to it but it’s definitely hard. It might be more of a mental game than a physical game at times. … If you don’t really have that drive to get back out there with your brothers and have success on the field, I think it’s a lot tougher. But, throughout it all, that’s been in the forefront of my mind.”

The Blue Hens have always liked Colby Reeder’s athletic ability as a linebacker.

Reeder said he’s tried to be smarter when he works out. Instead of trying to lift as much weight as he can, he now focuses on certain muscles.

He said he’s also learned a great deal working out with his older brother, Troy, the former Delaware linebacker who’s starting his second NFL season with the Rams. The two were together a lot of the summer.

“It’s been 14 months since surgery,” said Colby. “It gets monotonous sometimes with physical therapy, with a lot of these little exercises that I probably neglected when I was younger. They’re all about my core, working little muscles and finding unbalances in my body.

“I’m training a lot differently than I was. It’s not really about lifting 600 pounds right now. It’s about functional movement, it’s about moving fast.”

Given the coronavirus pandemic coupled with Reeder missing a season due to a serious injury, it might be difficult to say with any certainty how much eligibility he has remaining at Delaware. But it’s probably not out of the question that his college career could end up spanning seven years.

However much playing time Reeder is given, he said he’ll gladly accept it. After waiting so long, any playing time sounds pretty good right now.

“I’m going to try to play football until I can’t,” said Reeder. “And I’m going to try to help this team win some games as long as I can. If I can be out there, I’m going to be out there.”