Aug. 9, 2010
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By John Denton
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF right tackle Jah Reid had done his job for the most part on one particular play in Monday's first fully padded practice, blowing defensive tackle Victor Gray back three yards off the ball.
But when Reid let off the throttle just before the whistle, allowing Gray to get off the block, UCF's massive lineman had to endure the wrath of offensive line coach Brent Key.
``Finish! Finish! Finish!'' Key screamed.
The message to Reid, all 6-foot-7 and 324 pounds of him, was made exquisitely clear: It's no longer acceptable for UCF's biggest and strongest offensive lineman to just be good; greatness, mostly in the form of dominating foes, is the new standard.
And maybe for the first time in his five-year career at UCF, the soft-spoken, low-key Reid is at peace with the expectations of greatness that are being placed across his shoulders.
``It's positive pressure and it pushes me because I want to be better just like everybody else does,'' said Reid, a Haines City native. ``I want to dominate people because that's what my team needs and expects. I want to be great.''
Reid was certainly very good last season, earning first-team All-Conference USA honors last season. He cleared the way for Brynn Harvey to run for 1,109 yards and 14 TDs - many of which came over the right side behind Reid and powerful tight end Adam Nissley.
Now, the Knights are hoping that Reid can become the steam-rolling, workhorse of a tackle that UCF can depend on to open holes along the right side. And more than just blowing defensive ends and tackles back, head coach George O'Leary and Key are hoping to see Reid pancake foes in dominating fashion this season.
``He needs to be dominant, from a 6-foot-7, 330-pound guy, that's what we expect,'' O'Leary said. ``He's strong in the weight room and he has a good vertical of 30 inches and he really has an opportunity to be really good with his physical structure. It's a year that he needs to dominate. I see him moving better and I can see his improvement. And he's blocking a pretty good guy every day (in UCF star defensive end Bruce Miller) and that will only make him better. If he can dominate, we'll be pretty good on that right side.''
UCF's coaching staff is confident that Reid might make another big stride this season considering that he is already one of the team's most improved players and he worked exceptionally hard over the summer.
Reid was 370 pounds when he arrived on campus five seasons ago and was a major project because of his lack of stamina and strength. But he worked hard with strength coaches Ed Ellis and Scott Sinclair to drop weight and add muscle and the results have shown on the field.
This summer he was one of nine UCF offensive linemen to bench at least 400 pounds. It's muscle and mass that he can use to create some violent collisions down in the trenches.
``I'm just so thankful that the staff here believed in me, recruited me and brought me in here. I had to get myself in shape because I was heavy and I have to become faster and stronger,'' Reid said. ``The strength and conditioning staff helped me make some big strides. They've helped me develop into the player that I am and hopefully I'll keep getting better.''
The next step, of course, is dominating foes. And if he can reach that level, the NFL could ultimately come calling because of his prototypical height and wingspan for a tackle. NFL scouts from the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys attended Monday's workout, no doubt there to get a glimpse at Reid's development as a player in addition to watching other Knights players.
Said Reid: ``I want to be physical, violent and attack more and use my hands. I want people to not want to go against me. ... Of course, it's my dream to go to the NFL. A great season here at UCF can only help me. So hopefully we'll do great and I'll do great and I'll get that chance.''
Key thinks that Reid is headed for a great season based off the way he worked over the summer and the way he's become more of a leader for the Knights.
``Jah has really come on over the last couple of years and kind of come into his body with the size that he is,'' Key said. ``He always works extremely hard and this summer he took it to another level going into his senior year. He did all of the technique drills and film work study without anybody telling him to. He's working to take his game to another level.
``We've talked about him really being a leader for us,'' the offensive line coach continued. ``He's always been a low-key quiet leader, but he we're trying to bring that leadership out of him as a senior. We want him to be the dominant player that he can be. That's what we expect out of him, we've told him that and that's what we think he can do.''
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John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at email@example.com.