‘Kat’ outside linebacker position good fit for Hens’ Colby Reeder

Colby Reeder

NEWARK — Colby Reeder doesn’t mind admitting it.

He was getting his butt kicked for a while.

After getting thrown into the ‘kat’ outside linebacker spot just before Delaware opened preseason football practice a few weeks ago, the redshirt freshman suddenly found himself regularly playing in the trenches.

“I have never been in a three-point stance in my life,” Reeder said after the Blue Hens scrimmaged on Saturday morning. “And like half the time now, I’m down with the big boys.

“It took me a while just to adjust to the physicality. I was sore for a while. I’m still recovering from all those huge guys knocking me around. But I’m getting used to it.”

Indeed, by the time it’s all said and done, Delaware’s coaches think Reeder could end up being a really, really good player at his new position.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder may even start there when the Hens open the season by hosting Delaware State on Aug. 31.

As a two-way standout at Salesianum, Reeder was skilled enough to line up at safety and running back. But now he’s as big as some defensive ends.

First-year coach Danny Rocco said Reeder’s mix of size and speed make him a perfect fit for the kat spot in Delaware’s 3-4 defense.

Rocco is already saying that Reeder “has an extraordinarily bright future.”

As a two-way standout at Salesianum, Colby Reeder — shown above as a Blue running back during the 2016 Blue-Gold Game — was skilled enough to line up at safety and running back. But now the 6-3, 235-pounder is as big as some defensive ends. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“To be a great player, you have to have tools,” said Rocco. “And he has a lot of tools. He’s got length, he’s got explosion, power, speed. Now what’s making him unique to me is he’s instinctive. He’s got a nose for the ball.”

The highly-recruited Reeder had been playing on the other side, at the ‘bandit’ linebacker spot since the spring. But the Hens moved him at the last minute out of necessity.

That made for a great deal of on-the-job training for Reeder.

“I’m getting used to it,” said the 2015 state Defensive Player of the Year. “It’s a lot of stuff. I’m covering half the time, I’m playing up with the big guys half the time. It’s a lot of variety — a lot to know. But it’s a fun position.

“Almost every different play is different for me. I can do completely different things every play. Sometimes I’m out on receivers, sometimes I’m on a tackle.”

One of the Hens’ veteran defensive players who’s helping get Reeder ready to play, of course, is his older brother, Troy. A junior, Troy is slated to start at middle linebacker.

One of the main reasons that Troy transferred from Penn State before last season was to play with Colby. Their dad, Dan, was a standout fullback for the Hens in the 1980s.

Colby says having Troy around last year was a big help when he was sitting out the season. Troy had redshirted, too, in his true freshman season with the Nittany Lions.

First-year coach Danny Rocco said that Colby Reeder — shown above as a Blue running back during the 2016 Blue-Gold Game — has a mix of size and speed that make him a perfect fit for the kat spot in Delaware’s 3-4 defense. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“He said his freshman year, he made some of the biggest strides of his life,” said Colby. “You’re not playing so you’re just (weight) lifting all fall, and focusing and getting used to the pace of things. He just told me to keep grinding all year.

“It’s like a year of just getting ready.”

“He’s come a long way,” said Troy. “Now he’s able to come in and compete like a veteran. He’s done really well for us so far.

“The last time he played a game, he was playing safety at Baynard Stadium. Now, sometimes, he’s in a three-point stance wrestling with offensive tackles. It’s been a big change but he’s also done a really good job of preparing his body for that role.”

A year ago, Colby was named the Blue Hen Touchdown Club practice Player of the Week five times. Now, though, he’s ready to start playing again for real.

For a guy who didn’t leave the field much in his last couple high school seasons, only being able to watch on game days last fall wasn’t easy.

The Hens are hoping Reeder will hit the ground running.

“I’m really excited,” said Reeder. “I’ve been really antsy.

“It’s tough just watching. I’ve never watched in my whole life until last year on the sidelines. So it’s nice to be out there.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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