🎙 The Jayhawker Podcast | Nick Reid
Episode 35: Nick Reid | September 10, 2020
Since Big 12 play began in 1996, there’s only been one Jayhawk football player to win the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award. That player is Nick Reid and he did so at a position he never played prior to arriving at KU.
Originally a quarterback in high school, the Derby, Kansas native made his transition to linebacker as a college freshman. He did it as a member of Mark Mangino’s first recruiting class and Reid says Mangino sold him on being a part of building something special in Lawrence.
“It was all about building a foundation and being a part of something that could possibly be something great,” Reid recalled of Mangino’s recruiting pitch. “Starting from the ground up and putting in the time and putting in the effort. That’s kind of who I’ve been forever. I’d much rather be a part of building something than just jumping into something that’s already been established.”
The new KU coach’s pitch worked and one of the most decorated quarterbacks in Derby history came to Lawrence prior to the 2002 season. It didn’t take long though for Reid to be transitioned to defense – first to safety where he played briefly in high school, but then to an entirely new position all together.
“Before KU, I’d never played linebacker,” admitted Reid. “Not in high school, not in Pee Wee. Nothing. It was a whole new experience for me.”
That made his introduction to Big 12 offensive personnel that fall all the more daunting.
“It was a little bit overwhelming to step into Big 12 football and play linebacker taking on 320-pound lineman and fullbacks running at you,” recalled Reid. “I weighed 206 pounds my freshman year so I was a little undersized and didn’t know what the heck I was doing, but I was going to give my best effort every play.”
Reid did, indeed, give the position switch his all and his work ethic made him an instant fan favorite. His willingness to do anything to help the team certainly won over the Kansas coaches as well.
“As a competitor you always want to be on the field,” explained Reid. “Whatever I could do to get on the field is what I was going to do. Wherever the coaches needed me, wherever the team needed me to play, I was all about it because I just wanted to get on the field and help us build that program.”
Reid would wind up forming a special linebacking trio with Banks Floodman and Kevin Kane that was an integral part of setting the foundation for success in the Mark Mangino era.
And along the way to two bowl appearances in his four Kansas seasons, Reid took home that hardware that no other KU player in the Big 12 era has done. He also left the program trending upward, helping Kansas win its first bowl game in a decade and then setting the stage for the Jayhawks to go 26-12 in the first three seasons after his departure to the NFL. So, how did he do it? And what allowed this former high school quarterback to make such a splash in the heart of the Kansas defense? We explore those questions and more on this week’s episode of “The Jayhawker Podcast.”