Special teams is where a lot of young guys have to start out to make a name for themselves. Work your way into a regular role, make plays, earn the trust of the staff and graduate to a bigger function on offense or defense.
Right now, Thomas Reid III is on that path for the Arizona Wildcats.
After losing his Nevada offer due to coaching turnover, Reid landed at Arizona, tried out for the team and made the cut as a walk-on in 2016.
Reid didn’t play a snap in his first season, redshirting. He started to contribute as a special teamer in 2017, playing in eight games and recording one tackle.
In 2018, he really started to carve out a role, serving as a key figure throughout all phases of special teams. He played in all 12 games and recorded three tackles, including one for a 15-yard loss.
The three tackles don’t sound like much, but his services earned him Special Teams MVP as well as an all-Pac-12 honorable mention nod. He primarily served as a gunner on the punt coverage team and the five spot on kickoff coverage, sprinting to the ball as fast as possible. Even if he doesn’t make the tackle, he forces the ball carrier to hesitate and change direction. Reid also served on kick returns as a blocker.
Using GPS tracking in practice, Reid’s top speed was clocked in at 21.5 MPH.
When asked about special team guys who have been performing well this off-season, coach Jeremy Springer rattled off names of some of the younger guys, as well as their MVP from last season.
“Of course Thomas Reid, he was a stand out for us last year,” Springer said.
Now as an established special teamer, and with the lack of proven depth at receiver, he has a shot to get more solidified reps on offense.
“I feel like I’ve gotten to fill out this spring,” the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Reid said. “I’ve gotten a lot better than I have through the season. I’ve gotten a lot smarter. Like with realizing defenses and just knowing how to play and my technique.”
While he only recorded one catch last season, a six-yard gain at UCLA, he played a large handful of snaps between pass and run plays. That in itself shows that the stuff trusts him to either go out and get open or provide run support from the outside.
Reid is the ultimate walk-on story. Tried out, made the team, worked onto a special teams role and now has a shot to earn solid reps at receiver with his 6-foot-2, 205 frame and legitimate track speed.
Now all he needs is a scholarship.