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Penn State

Penn State's John Reid looks to solidify defense

| Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018, 6:48 p.m.
Penn State’s John Reid (29) returns an interception to close the game out against Temple during the second half of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Penn State won the game 34-27. (AP Photo/Chris Knight)Penn State’s John Reid (29) returns an interception to close the game out against Temple during the second half of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Penn State won the game 34-27.
Penn State’s John Reid (29) returns an interception to close the game out against Temple during the second half of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Penn State won the game 34-27. (AP Photo/Chris Knight)Penn State’s John Reid (29) returns an interception to close the game out against Temple during the second half of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Penn State won the game 34-27.

STATE COLLEGE — Penn State cornerback John Reid had a fairly extensive internship with technology giant Intel in 2017. It ran straight through preseason camp.

And there is the problem.

Sure the internship was great, but he was only able to do it because he was rehabbing a knee injury and out for the season. He missed a good one.

Reid injured his left knee during spring practice last year and watched his teammates go 11-2, challenge for a second straight Big Ten championship, beat Washington in the Fiesta Bowl and finish ranked eighth in the country to make it two years in row in the top 10.

Reid said the most difficult part wasn’t missing out on the wins. Instead, it was not being able to provide support in the losses.

“Sitting out of those big games, feeling I could help out was tough,” Reid said at Penn State’s media day Saturday. “Especially when the games were close, that’s one of the reasons you come to Penn State for games like that. We lost to Ohio State and Michigan State by less than a touchdown, and to not be out there with my teammates wasn’t easy.”

Reid doesn’t have to watch anymore.

The fourth-year junior is back and fully recovered from his injury, eager to make a mark on a defense that is trying to replace nine starters, including cornerbacks Grant Haley and Christian Campbell.

“It’s so much fun to be back,” Reid said. “To be back in the full swing of things with all these guys, I’m enjoying it a lot. My routine hasn’t changed much, even though I sat out all last season, so things aren’t too different. I’m just eager to get back on that field and do whatever it takes to help this team win football games.”

Reid has often been described by teammates and coaches as one of the smartest members of the program, with that internship at Intel as proof.

He’s also been labeled “as the ultimate professional” by his peers and a “film junkie” by Penn State coach James Franklin.

With so many new faces stepping into larger roles on the defensive side of the ball, Reid’s high football IQ and experience should come in handy for a Nittany Lions team eager to take another step forward and get into the College Football Playoff.

“It means a lot to get John Reid back,” fellow cornerback Amani Oruwariye said. “Everyone knows what he’s done on the field for us and how he can change the game. Having him back is just having another big brain in our secondary room. He’s a student of the game. He’s a guy that works hard and pushes others to work hard.”

Oruwariye said Reid’s mental prowess is most impressive during film sessions and secondary meetings, where he’s the most likely player to ask thought-provoking questions or point out some detail that no one else noticed.

“His football mentality, his smarts, they’re just on a whole other level,” Oruwariye said.

But it’s not just the intelligence that makes Reid such a crucial player for the Nittany Lions. He also has all of the physical skills necessary to be the team’s top coverage guy — a role vacated with the departure of Haley.

“He’s super valuable as a cover corner,” junior safety Garrett Taylor said. “You can place him on the team’s No. 1 wide receiver, and he can basically eliminate them for the whole game. Having that experience back — he’s played since he was a true freshman — it’s given the secondary and the defense a little bit more confidence and swagger.”

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