John Reid hasn’t played a down of his junior season just yet, but the 2015 Philadelphia cornerback already has more than a dozen FBS scholarship offers, which isn’t surprising considering he had two before ever played a down as a freshman.
“John got offered before he played his freshman year,” St. Joseph’s Prep head coach Gabe Infante said.
“He got offered at Boston College when he went up to their camp and then got offered at Rutgers a week later. This is nothing new to John. John’s been living this recruiting thing for three years now, which is really uncommon.”
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound corner has since added offers from schools like Notre Dame, Alabama, Miami, Michigan State, Penn State and Maryland among others.
“John puts everything together,” Infante said. “You hear this with a lot of kids, but John is the perfect storm; everything from his inner-drive, his professionalism – if I could say that – the way he goes about his business. Obviously athletically, he’s very, very gifted. He’s got the short speed and the long speed. He’s technically very, very sound. Fundamentally, I don’t think you’ll find a better kid than he is and where he’s at right now. He’s ultra-competitive. This will be his third season starting for us.
“He’s just a great young man, he’s a great kid to be around. He’s the type of kid you’d want your daughter to date. He’s the type of young man you’re proud to have in your program. He represents us very well and is just a great ambassador for our program.”
Infante is in entering his fourth season as head coach at St. Joseph’s Prep and has helped steer the program into the nation’s elite.
“John exemplifies the type of young men that we have in our program,” the coach said. “They’re very humble, hard-working and they’re very down to earth. I think John is an example of a lot of our guys.
“If you were sitting in the cafeteria at St. Joseph’s Prep and you were sitting with him and a bunch of other kids, you probably wouldn’t know he was as talented as he was. He doesn’t bring that attention to himself. He’s got a lot of other interests, he’s got a lot of other goals and that’s really unique in a young man that has that type of talent and has gotten that type of attention.”
The recruiting process may have started a long time ago for Reid, but he isn’t in a rush to bring it to a close.
“We believe that committing early to a place – unless you’re committing to the institution itself – is probably not the smartest thing to do because guys move constantly,” Infante said. “You have to be reassessing all of the time with how things are changing. I don’t foresee him committing and we don’t put a lot of pressure on that.
“He’s not one of these guys who needs everybody to offer him. He’s not going to be one of these guys who pulls a hat out of a bag. He’s not one of those guys, but at the same time, these coaches wait for you to sign and then they move the next day. It’s really unfortunate for these kids nowadays the way the recruiting game has changed. We have to take all of those things into account with when and how he decides he’s going to go somewhere.”
Reid wanted to try to get out to South Bend this summer, but wasn’t able to. He won’t be making many unofficial visits this fall either.
“We play the toughest schedule in the state of Pennsylvania,” Infante said. “We open up in Texas and then we play Don Bosco in week two and then we play North Penn. We play a very, very difficult league schedule, so it’s tough. It’ll be tough for him. We have a bye week in week four where I try to encourage the kids to get out and see schools.”
Infante expects several schools to try to get Reid to visit the third weekend of September. The Irish host Michigan State that weekend, but wherever he goes that week probably won’t be much of an indication of any favorites, according to his coach.
“I wouldn’t read too much into where he goes that weekend,” said Infante. “I think it might be more what’s easy and accessible than where his interest is. I know he’s got a strong interest in Alabama having gone there this summer and having been offered there, but it may not be feasible for him to get out there. I’m not sure what he’s thinking, but I’m sure he’ll have a lot of opportunities.
“It’s tough, but John is a guy who’s gotten to where he is because he knows how to prioritize his schedule. To be successful at our school, you have to know how to prioritize things. I know he’s going to put his teammates first and I know he’s not going to do anything that’s going to jeopardize our season or the responsibilities he has to our team. It’s going to be tough for him.”
As Infante mentioned, the schedule is grueling this year. Prior to playing New Jersey power Don Bosco, St. Joseph’s Prep will be in Dallas to play Jesuit.
“How else do you get better?” Infante asked. “We can go play some cupcakes and beat them, but how does that make us better? You get better by competing against teams that are better than you. We want to win in November and December. We could easily go and beat up on some teams in the area, but how would that make our football team better? We’re not about stats and padding stats. We want to win a championship when it counts and the only way to do that is to go out and find the best teams you can find.
“We expect to win, we play to win, but for us, it’s about following a process and that process means we’re going to go play the best teams we can find and find out how good we are. I don’t believe in going to play teams that I know we’re better than. That doesn’t help anybody. That’s not the type of kid we attract and that’s not the type of program we run here. We want to go play the best schedule we can and find out how good we are. If we don’t do well, we have to find out what we need to do to get better.”
Infante says that approach is what attracted prospects like Reid, 2015 offensive lineman and Michigan commit Jon Runyan Jr. and 2015 athlete Olamide Zaccacheus to St. Joseph’s Prep.
“We have national recruits because they’re sold on the fact that they want to come here and play a national schedule and play the best,” he said.
Last year’s schedule included wins over current Irish freshmen Tarean Folston and Devin Butler’s teams in independent contests.
“Last year we opened up in Florida,” said Infante. “We played a Cocoa team that was ranked in the top 25 and we beat them on their home turf. Then we went to Gonzaga and beat them. That’s who we are and that’s what we do. We’re going to down to Texas and we’re going to win in Texas. Then we’re going to go to North Jersey and we’re going to win in North Jersey. That’s just the way we’re built.”
But the schedule isn’t designed for the purpose of claiming any national titles.
“We talk about being the best program in the country, that’s our aspiration and that means a lot of things,” Infante said. “That’s not just winning a mythical national championship that someone bestows upon us because maybe we have more blue-chip recruits than everyone else. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that those rankings really don’t mean anything. You don’t actually play for that, that’s a mythical championship.
“We don’t place all of the value in that. We place our value in winning each game. The next game is the most important game because it’s the next game. We’re committed to being the best program in the country and that means we want to have the best strength and conditioning program, we want to have the best facilities, we want to have the best academic support, and we want to have the best equipment. We want to do everything better than everyone else. If that means that someday, we’re the best team in the country and somebody votes us that, then that’s great, but right now, we try and focus on the things that we can control. Right now that means winning in Texas.”
Either way, the schedule definitely gives prospects like Reid and others an edge compared to their peers.
“When you get a kid like John Reid, you have a kid who has done football service trips with us at Alabama, Virginia Tech and Ohio State,” Infante said. “He’s done camps at Boston College, he’s done camps at Rutgers. We’ve played in the state of Florida, we’ve played in the states of Massachusetts, Virginia and Ohio.
“You’re getting a seasoned young man. You’re not getting your prototypical, every day, run-of-the-mill high school football player. You’re getting a kid that’s been raised in a program that when you get him, he knows how to travel, he knows how to compete at the highest level, he knows how to budget his time and get his grades done and he’s competed at the highest level you can compete at the high school level. When he gets to college, I’m not saying he can just walk right in and do it, but you’re getting a kid who’s very seasoned, very mature and has prepared as well as you can prepare a high school football player for college.”
According to Infante, Reid is setting an example for the St. Joseph’s Prep players behind him.
“John is right now the kid who is setting the tone for everybody else, but we’re full of young talent,” Infante said. “It’s just starting for us in that regard.
“He’s going to set the tone for other great players that come out of our program and hopefully over time, people will come to acknowledge the job that we do in preparing our kids for college.”