On June 7 the seniors at Farmington High School in Michigan will make a 30-minute drive east to The Roostertail in Detroit for their prom. The next three months leading up to that date they’ll make plans, rent outfits work up the courage to ask someone to go with them and prepare for the culmination of their high school careers. One of their own doesn’t have time to think about who might be his date, a tux or even prom itself, he’s busy getting ready for a date with the UMass Minutemen in September.
David Reese is getting a crash course in Geoff Collins’ defense this spring. The early enrollee linebacker skipped half of Michigan’s winter to join the Florida Gators football program in January, a decision that is already paying dividends.
“Reese has come a long way. From where he was at first to where he is now is unbelievable,” Florida linebackers coach Randy Shannon said of his freshman pupil. “He had an unbelievable scrimmage last week, we put him in with the ones last week just to see what he can do and he didn’t go berserk on us. He called the defense, made them line up and made some plays.”
With the losses of Antonio Morrison and Jeremi Powell the Gators are once again thin at linebacker. Reese is a Mike, a middle linebacker through and through.
“To be honest with you, if you get five you’re doing really, really good. If you get four, that’s great,” Shannon said of where he’d like the linebacker depth to be. “But if you get three you just have to work with it. It’s not a situation where you want to be in.”
Comparisons have already been drawn to Morrison and the potential that Reese has shown excites his teammates. If having Randy Shannon — who has coached the likes of Ray Lewis, Jon Beason, Dan Morgan, D.J. Williams and Jonathan Vilma — isn’t enough, Reese also has Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone to learn from.
“We meet almost every week and we make sure that we sit down and go over the plays, go over the scheme because I want him to be comfortable,” Davis said of his time with Reese.
Reese was special in high school. Reese was voted the top fall-season male athlete after he led his team in tackles (135) as a senior. Reese is the all-time leading tackler in Farmington history with 428. He has a nose for the ball, forcing three fumbles, recovering five, blocking a kick and scoring a defensive touchdown in high school. Reese is taking that experience from high school and hoping that an early start on his freshman season will pay off.
“The first thing he needs to do is once he gets us lined up; everything else will fall into track,” said Shannon. “I always tell him, every day, just get the front lined up, everything else will fall into place. He’s been doing a great job of that.”
The transition can be tough, but Reese is in good hands. He’s a smart player and a student of the game. Both Davis and Anzalone have taken a concerted interest in Reese and his progression. When the linebacker split off into position drills Davis pops up to provide an example and Anzalone stands behind Reese, telling the freshman what he should be watching as Davis goes through the prescribed drill. Davis will do the rep again; this time professor Anzalone points something else out for the freshman. It’s a lot to consume and digest but the elder statesmen in the middle of the defense are optimistic.
“I know what I wanted as a freshman and I got it,” Davis said of providing an example for Reese. “I’m going to do the same, return the favor, make sure that he steps up because he could be something very special.”