Aug. 3, 2015
By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — It took longer than he would have liked, but the University of Virginia’s new running backs coach, Chris Beatty, finally reeled in Albert Reid.
During Reid’s final season of high school football, Beatty was an assistant coach at Vanderbilt. Among his recruiting targets was Reid, an All-Metro tailback at Friendship Collegiate Academy, a public charter school in Washington, D.C.
“I thought we had a better-than-average shot,” Beatty recalled.
In January 2012, however, Reid committed to Maryland, with which he signed early next month. By then, Beatty had moved to the Big Ten, where he coached for the next three seasons: at Illinois in 2012 and at Wisconsin in ’13 and ’14.
A new year brought a new opportunity for Beatty, who joined head coach Mike London’s staff at UVa in January. Reid was still a Terrapin then, but he was interesting in making a fresh start at another school. When Reid learned that Beatty had landed at Virginia, his interest was piqued.
And so, once Reid decided he wanted to transfer and was granted a release by Maryland, UVa was an easy choice for him. It’s close to his family in the D.C. area, and he already had a strong relationship with Beatty.
“They say everything happens for a reason, and it just happened at the right time,” Reid recalled recently.
Reid, who turned 21 last week, planned his departure from Maryland carefully. He was not going to leave without a degree, and he stayed in College Park early this summer to complete work on a bachelor’s in criminal justice.
He earned that degree in only three years. On the football field, Reid played in 11 games for the Terps as a true freshman in 2012 and 13 as a sophomore in ’13.
Last year, though, he suffered a season-ending knee injury after Maryland’s fourth game. Once the season ended, Reid applied for and received a hardship waiver, and so he arrived at UVa last month as an especially attractive transfer: one who has two years of eligibility.
“It just worked out for me,” said Reid, who’ll enter a master’s program in the Curry School of Education.
Training camp starts Friday for the Cavaliers, who finished 5-7 last season, and Reid is one of the team’s most intriguing newcomers.
“We expect him to compete and come in and play,” London said last month at ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst, N.C. “He will definitely get an opportunity. It’ll make us stronger.”
In his 28 games as a Terrapin Ã¢â‚¬” Reid started four of them Ã¢â‚¬” he carried 122 times for 447 yards and three touchdowns. He caught 12 passes for 129 yards and a TD.
“I think there’s a lot [of room for Reid to improve],” Beatty said. “He did some good things at Maryland, obviously, but we’re counting on him to do more.”
In October 2013, Reid carried 15 times for 75 yards against Clemson, both career highs. The longest run of his Maryland career came, coincidentally, against Virginia. Reid had a 38-yard gain on Oct. 12, 2013, in the Terps’ 27-26 victory over the Wahoos at Byrd Stadium.
The ‘Hoos return a seasoned offensive line, as well as veteran fullbacks Connor Wingo-Reeves and Vincent Croce, and they hope to feature a power running game this fall. But UVa has to replace its top two rushers from 2014: Kevin Parks and Khalek Shepherd.
Between them, Parks and Shepherd carried 273 times for 1,093 yards and six touchdowns last year.
“We don’t have a whole lot of experience [at tailback], to be honest,” Beatty said.
Mizzell has totaled 464 yards rushing and 435 receiving in his 22 games as a Cavalier, “but he’s always been the No. 3 guy,” Beatty said.
Hamm has only 40 career carries, more than half of which came against VMI in 2013.
Mizzell and Hamm are each listed at 190 pounds on the Cavaliers’ roster. The 5-9 Reid weighs around 210, and he’s shown that he can run between the tackles.
“He’s a bigger back,” Beatty said.
Reid said he considers himself a physical runner, “but I don’t like to label myself as a certain back, because I want to be an all-around back. So I like to have that physical side, and I like to have that side where I can sometimes be a finesse guy and make [defenders] miss. I just want to be an every-down back, and that’s what I believe I’m working towards.”
Reid has been living this summer with new teammates Mike Moore, T.J. Thorpe, David Dean and Maurice Canady. Reid and Moore, a graduate of DeMatha High in Hyattsville, Md., have known each other since they met a few years ago at a photo shoot for The Washington Post’s All-Metro football team.
Before choosing to transfer to Virginia, Reid said, he looked at the depth chart and saw Parks and Shepherd were gone.
“But there’s still competition here,” Reid said. “It wasn’t like I looked at it and said, ‘Well, I can just go in there and play right away.’ I know I’m going to have to come in here and work. If I’m going to get any playing time, I’m going to have to work for it. Because you’ve still got some talented guys here.
“I looked at the depth chart a little bit, but I just felt like Beatty was a great coach, and I remembered him from high school, when he was recruiting me hard. I had a lot of respect for him, so I just took my chances, and it all worked out.”
The Terps moved from the ACC to the Big Ten last summer, but Reid didn’t learn much about the brand of football in that league.
“It’s kind of funny,” he said, “because I never played a game in the Big Ten. My last game played at Maryland was against an ACC team” Ã¢â‚¬” Syracuse.
Reid’s injury to his posterior cruciate ligament did not require surgery, and he was healthy again by the start of spring practice at Maryland. He stayed in good shape while completing his degree requirements in College Park this summer, but by the time Reid made it to Charlottesville, virtually all of UVa’s returning players were already in town, working out together.
He’s been studying the playbook to prepare himself for training camp.
Learning a new offense is “hard at any position,” Beatty said, “but it’s part of the process, and it’s my job to get him up to speed and get him on track. I’m not super worried about him catching up. He’s a smart guy, and I’m not worried.”
Maryland, one of Virginia’s oldest rivals, ended last season in a bowl game. The ‘Hoos haven’t played in the postseason since 2011, their second year under London. They came agonizingly close last season, and everyone associated with the program will be disappointed if the breakthrough doesn’t come this fall.
“That’s exactly what I want to do here,” Reid said. “I want to come here and help the team get over the hump, or whatever it is.
“Whatever I can do to make this team a better team, that’s what I’ll do, regardless of what it is. I’m a team player all the way.”
OPPORTUNITIES FOR FANS: The first three practices of UVa’s training camp are open to the public. The Cavaliers will practice at 7 p.m. Friday and at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The team practices on the fields behind the McCue Center and University Hall. Parking will be free after 5 p.m. on Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday in the McCue Center and U-Hall lots.
Also, the annual Meet the Team Day is Sunday, Aug. 16, at John Paul Jones Arena. Members of the football team will be available for photos and autographs from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Fans can start entering JPJ at 12:30 p.m. Free parking will be available in the JPJ and U-Hall surface lots.