Reeder shows Hens he can still get better

Troy Reeder

NEWARK — Now in his fifth year as a college football player, there isn’t much Troy Reeder hasn’t done by now.

On the other hand, there’s always room to get better.

And Delaware’s football coaches liked what they saw from the grizzled old linebacker so much over the last few months that they named Reeder the most improved defensive player of spring practice.

“It’s just shocking that we would be sitting here talking about that today,” coach Danny Rocco quipped after the Blue Hens concluded spring practice with the Blue-White Game on Saturday.

“Here’s a plyer who’s a really good player. There were a couple things that he knew he had to work on. And I mean, day one in spring ball, Coach (Manny) Rojas and I were like ‘Oh my gosh, look at that. He corrected the things that he needed to correct.’ We wanted to be able to recognize that.”

Reeder, the former Penn State transfer who will be a senior in the fall, clearly stood out on Saturday as Delaware wrapped up its second spring practice under Rocco.

Along with the most improved award, he also was named the top player in the weight room as well as being elected a team captain again.

Reeder said the award for being the most improved meant the most to him.

“It was a surprise to me,” said the former Salesianum All-Stater. “I just kind of hope I can be a kind of example you can (still) get better when you think you’re decent. There’s always strides to be made.”

Linebacker Ray Jones (7) and receiver Gene Coleman battle for a pass in Saturday’s scrimmage. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

As for the scrimmage itself, the Blue beat the White 46-44 according to a point system that only had a little bit to do with reaching the end zone.

The afternoon’s only touchdown came when quarterback Darius Wade threw up a 27-yard pass that receiver Vinny Papale pulled down over a defensive back in the end zone. Other than that, however, the offense was only so-so.

The afternoon was broken up into non-contact 7-on-7 sessions in which all the QBs took turns and actual scrimmages in which Wade and junior Pat Kehoe had most of the snaps.

Wade, the former Middletown High standout who transferred from Boston College in the off-season, completed 6-of-11 passes for 58 yards and the TD while Kehoe was 8-for-12 for 74 yards. Wade lined up with the first-team offense — and went up against the No. 1 defense — while Kehoe had the No. 2 offense and faced the second-string defense.

Returning starting quarterback J.P. Caruso, who had off-season shoulder surgery, only took part in the 7-on-7.

The first-team offense went three-and-out on its first three possessions.

“I was a little disappointed today that we didn’t move the ball better with our first offense,” said Rocco. “But I’ve got to be able to recognize that our first defense is pretty good.

“The thing you kind of ask yourself is what kind of ceiling do you have? Sometimes you come out here and you look pretty good but your ceiling isn’t real high — and you kind of know that. I think we have a high ceiling on both sides of the ball. We showed glimpses of that today but we certainly have to be more consistent.”

“It definitely could have been better,” said Wade. “We definitely could be sharper. The good thing is, the game isn’t tomorrow. We have all summer and fall camp to keep preparing and keep getting better. I’m looking forward to it.”

Not surprisingly, Rocco wasn’t ready to commit to naming a starting QB right now. He noted that it was the second straight spring game that Kehoe. looked pretty good.

“A lot happens between now and the start of camp,” said Rocco. “And a lot of it is player driven. They do a lot of things throwing together. A lot of chemistry is developed during that timeline.”

One of the players who used to be part of that quarterback picture — three-year starter Joe Walker — has proven that he’s still a big part of the team despite moving to receiver this spring. The senior was also voted one of the Hens’ captains.

That’s not a surprise to Rocco.

“Last year, in some of the tougher, tighter moments, I stood by Joe,” said Rocco. “I said, ‘Joe’s a fighter. This kid is a fierce competitor and he’s a great athlete.’ Those qualities — whether you’re playing quarterback, running back, receiver, defensive back — they are really, really important.

“I think the transition has been really good. He’s really gone out there and owned it. He’s taken a lot of pride in doing little things right.”

Like Reeder with his award, Walker said it means a lot to him that his teammates still consider him one of their leaders. He had two catches for 40 yards on Saturday.

“It would never change my attitude,” Walker said about switching positions. “My goal has never changed. I want a national championship no matter where I’m playing on the field. If I have to gain 100 pounds and play ‘O’ line than that’s what I’ll do. I’m committed to the Blue Hens.”

Extra points

Senior linebacker Charles Bell, who was able to return this fall after suffering a season-ending back injury early last year, was voted the other team captain. … The only other traditional points in the scrimmage came when Frank Raggo kicked a 30-yard field goal and Polytech High grad Mark Bonnie booted a 24-yarder. … Smyrna High grad Nolan Henderson was 2-for-3 for 11 yards with an interception during the 7-on-7. …. Center Collin Wallish was named the most improved offensive player. … Reeder and defensive back Joey Carter had interceptions.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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