Rams take a flyer on former Florida State star
• By Jim Thomas
A bevy of standouts from Florida State’s 2013 national championship squad worked out March 18 at the Seminoles’ pro day.
The Rams were impressed enough with a former Seminole working out there that day to end up signing him. Namely, cornerback and return man Greg Reid.
“He had a really nice pro day at Florida State,” Rams general manager Les Snead said. “When our scouts reported that back, we brought him in on Friday last week. So he went from pro day to our place (March 21), had a nice workout. We liked his pedigree.”
It is in fact quite a pedigree, but one that got derailed by off-the-field issues and knee injuries.
Reid, now 23, was a Parade and SuperPrep All-American at Lowndes County (Ga.) High. He was named Georgia player of the year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and also named the Georgia Class 5-A player of the decade.
Highly recruited, Reid ended up at Florida State, where as a true freshman in 2009, he played nickel back and led the nation in punt returns with an 18.4-yard average. He started 23 games at cornerback the next two years while continuing to return punts and kickoffs with impressive success.
Entering his senior season in 2012, Reid was set to be part of a highly skilled secondary that included current NFL player Xavier Rhodes (Minnesota) and highly regarded 2014 draft prospect LaMarcus Joyner. Reid was well within range of breaking Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders’ school record for career punt return yards.
But Reid never made it to the field in Tallahassee.
He was arrested in the summer of 2012 for possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license. It was his second arrest in 12 months, and he was dismissed by Florida State in August of that year.
Reid quickly transferred to Valdosta (Ga.) State, a Division II program in his hometown. Then came the knee injuries. During camp before the 2012 season opener at Valdosta, Reid suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
That ended his college career. Even though he wasn’t completely recovered, Reid was invited to the NFL scouting combine in 2013. But in pre-draft workouts that March, Reid suffered a torn ACL in the same knee and was done for the year once again.
As a result, Reid comes to the Rams having not played in a game in more than two years.
“Their head coach signed off on him,” Snead said, referring to FSU’s Jimbo Fisher. “Gave him the thumbs up as a person you want to invest in. Any time a player goes back to his pro day after, let’s call it a celebrated career gets derailed a little bit, it shows his hunger, passion for the game. We’ll give it a shot.”
It’s a gamble to be sure, but a low-risk one. Reid was signed to a three-year minimum wage deal that includes no signing bonus money. Since this is Reid’s first NFL contract, it had to be three years in duration under league rules. There’s no guaranteed money, so if Reid doesn’t pan out during training camp and the preseason, the Rams can release him without any financial obligation.
While Rams scouts liked what they saw of Reid at the FSU pro day, coach Jeff Fisher liked what he saw during Reid’s subsequent workout at Rams Park.
“He was very productive in college before he had his issues,” Fisher said. “His issues are behind him. I personally ran the workout (at Rams Park) because the coaches were on vacation.
“I thought he moved well. He understood things. He’s got a chance to compete at the nickel corner spot. Outstanding returner, not that we have a need. But had outstanding returns earlier in his career.”
At Florida State, Reid returned three punts for touchdowns. In 2010, he set a school single-season record with 724 yards on 30 kickoff returns for a 23.9-yard average. In the secondary, he had seven interceptions over his three seasons as a Seminole.
At 5-8, 178 pounds, Reid is on the small side. But with Cortland Finnegan released and now with Miami, the Rams need a nickel back.
On the current roster, free safety Rodney McLeod handled some of the nickel back chores last season when Finnegan was injured. There’s some thought that cornerback Brandon McGee, who played sparingly on defense as a rookie in 2013, could compete for the nickel job as well.
As for Reid, he was known as a quick, speedy defender in college as well as an aggressive tackler.
“That’s as instinctive and one of the best football players I’ve ever been around,” Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher said last week according to Fox Sports Florida. “I think if somebody gets him in camp, they’re going to be very happy.”