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Well-traveled Thomas Reid III putting down roots with Arizona

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Thomas Reid III (left)
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Reid III caught his first career pass as an Arizona Wildcat on Saturday, hauling in a six-yard reception in the loss to the UCLA Bruins.

Like most people watching the game, Reid did not think much of it at the time other than that it resulted in a first down and kept the UA offense on the field.

So Reid flipped the ball to the official and readied for the next play.

“When it happened I was just ready to move on to the next play and I was ready for more to come my way,” he said. “I love to play in the moment and once I got that pass, I was elated inside, but I was ready for more to come.”

Now that a few days have passed and Reid has had time to reflect on that moment, he realizes its sanctity.

“It’s what I’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Reid said Tuesday, standing in the Sands Club overlooking Arizona Stadium.

Reid’s path to Tucson was as winding as they come. His father is a chef in the Army, which meant Reid was always on the move as a kid, shifting from base to base.

He was born in Virginia, moved to Kansas at a young age, moved back to Virginia, then to North Carolina, before attending high school all the way in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Luckily, his family now lives at Fort Huachuca, an hour southeast of Tucson in Sierra Vista, allowing them to come to all of his home games.)

“I was younger (when we were moving) so I never had time to make friends and when I did I just ended up moving, so it was kinda hard,” Reid said. “But I learned to get adjusted to it as I got older. But when I was really young I remember it was kinda hard.”

Like the time Reid found out he was moving from Kansas to Virginia midway through second grade.

“I was in my room crying,” he recalled.

High school was the only time Reid was able to stay put through his childhood, and even that was the result of some luck.

“We were supposed to move before I graduated, but my dad got extended so I could finish high school and not have to move,” he said. “It was good.”

So was Reid’s performance on the football field.

He was a two-time Division II All-State selection at Radford High School. As a senior, he had 26 catches for 636 yards and seven touchdowns, guiding his team to a 13-0 record and a state championship.

Reid also starred on the track team, becoming a two-time state champion as part of the 4X400 relay team.

Those accolades garnered Reid scholarship offers from Hawaii and Nevada, and Reid was all set to join the Wolf Pack until then-head coach Nick Rolovich left for Hawaii and scuttled his plans.

The new Nevada coaching staff only recommended Reid as a walk-on and Reid was not interested in Hawaii, so he started looking at other options.

“I figured I had a better chance of going elsewhere than staying in Hawaii because I didn’t want to stay any longer,” Reid said.

It was January of Reid’s senior year at this point, so he frantically started applying to colleges across the country, researching their football teams and watching YouTube videos to get a feel for their programs.

Reid got accepted to Arkansas and Arizona, but felt the latter was a better fit for him, even though he did not have any connections to the school or coaching staff.

“I just really liked it here and how they played, so I just decided to come here and shoot my shot,” he said.

Reid tried out for the Arizona football team in the fall of 2016. A day or two later, he found out he made the cut as a walk-on.

“I don’t know who called, but I just got a phone call and they said, ‘are you ready to play football here at Arizona?’ And I was like, ‘of course,’” Reid said.

The tryout evidently went well.

“Well, I’m still here,” Reid joked.

Reid auditioned for the UA track team the following week and made that squad, too, though he has stuck with football since arriving in Tucson.

“(The track coach) said I can come out when I want to, I just have to ask,” he said.

Reid redshirted in 2016, but appeared in eight games on special teams in 2017, using his speed to make an impact as a gunner on punts and kickoffs. He has done the same in 2018.

Reid flies down the field just as he did when he was a track star. Arizona players monitor their speed and distance using GPS tracking and Reid said his top speed is 21.5 MPH — one of the best marks on the team — and he recently covered a career-best 7,000 yards in a game.

“I (get) a little winded, but it just feels like nothing,” Reid said.

Wide receiver is more technical, so it has not been easy for Reid to crack the rotation. He was targeted for the first time in his career against Utah (the pass sailed out of bounds) before making his first career catch at UCLA.

Reid said he will continue to work hard and do whatever it takes to get a chance to add a second catch to his ledger, but knows there is no guarantee it will ever happen.

Either way, he is loving his time on the team just as much as he was when he first joined it.

“I was just happy to be here and I was just happy to play,” he said. “I felt like I needed to wait my turn and do what I needed to do and as time would come, I would soon get the opportunity I needed.”