BY AARON BRENNER | firstname.lastname@example.org
AUBURN, Ala. – Heads were spinning on the first day of Auburn’s new football era, the structured chaos a stark contrast from last year’s moderate pace wowing many youngsters.
Not Trovon Reed. The only offensive skill player still around who was on the roster during that magical Cam Newton-led 2010 national championship season, Reed’s perfectly accustomed to Gus Malzahn’s frenetic style.
“I was like a little kid on the playground the first day of school,” Reed said following Wednesday’s inaugural spring practice. “Everybody was flying around, enjoying this fast-paced offense.
“We’ve been sitting on it for a long, long time. No football, all working out. Just thinking about 3-9.”
It’s not all fun and games for the 6-foot, 190-pound redshirt junior, whose fellow five-star Scout.com recruits from that ballyhooed class of 2010 – defensive end Corey Lemonier and running back Michael Dyer – have moved on. Since taking a medical redshirt the title year, Reed’s caught 30 balls for 286 yards and just one touchdown in his full two seasons – underachieving figures by any standard.
“Time is flying. I can’t just keep sitting back. I have to start attacking,” Reed said. “I’ve got to start doing all the right things, on and off the field – gotta start making plays. I just want to win, whether I perform well or don’t perform well.”
Last year’s demons haunt Reed. A native of Thibodaux, La., nestled on the Gulf Coast and not too far south of Baton Rouge, Reed went home to Louisiana during winter break with no bowl game to prepare for.
Reed had to hear it from his LSU-supporting friends who since Auburn’s championship victory have watched the ‘other’ Tigers go 23-4 – including a 2012 BCS title game loss to Alabama, and coming within one play of knocking off the defending champion Crimson Tide in the 2012 regular season.
Meanwhile, Auburn’s gone 11-14 in that span, sunk by last year’s nightmare.
“I’m taking it more serious. 3-9, that’s embarrassing,” Reed said. “That’s all I kept hearing: ‘You went all the way to Auburn to do that? You could’ve stayed here and helped us, blah blah blah, we would’ve had you that one play, could’ve got us to the national championship.’
“Little things like that get under my skin. It just made me work even harder. I’ve got to show them picking Auburn wasn’t a mistake.”
The current coaching staff – Malzahn, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig – are definitively more familiar with Reed’s potential than perhaps that of younger prospects.
“I think it’s time,” Malzahn said. “I think he’d say the same thing, that it’s time for him. The good thing about Trovon is he understands our system. He’s been in it, so this is a year that will be very critical for him. I’ve got very high expectations for him.”
Reed’s not shy about his inner sensitivity – “When we’re not doing too good, I hear it. I don’t show it, but I hear it.” – nor about his desire to take over the ‘Lord of the Wides’ role vacated by past role models Darvin Adams, Terrell Zachery and Emory Blake.
“I sat in the back seat for a long time, and now I’m that older guy in the room,” Reed said. “Now I have to lead. All I’ve been around is winning, so last year, like, really got under my skin. Now I’ve got to lead our room back to that path they led.”